Conservation news

Audio: The dialogue between science and indigenous knowledge

On today’s episode, we discuss traditional indigenous knowledge and climate change with Snowchange Cooperative director Tero Mustonen.

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Through Snowchange, which is based in Finland, Mustonen works with indigenous communities around the world on projects related to climate change. He co-authored a scientific paper in the journal Science last year on climate change, human wellbeing, and biodiversity, and will also be one of the lead authors of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s next assessment report, due out in the early 2020s. We were interested to hear how Mustonen thinks traditional indigenous knowledge can inform climate science.

“Often in the past, science has been seen as quite [the] colonial tool by indigenous peoples, and they have been the targets of research,” Mustonen says in this episode of the Mongabay Newscast. “We are trying to say that we are co-researching, and these knowledge-holders in remote communities are scientists of their own kind, they have knowledge of their own kind, and it fits well with the idea of a dialogue between science and indigenous knowledge.”

We also speak with Mustonen about Snowchange’s work with indigenous communities, from ecological restoration to solar initiatives, the latter of which are specifically designed to empower women in remote indigenous communities.

“We are financing solar panels to alleviate the use of diesel fuel and small generators in the remote reindeer camps and fish bases,” Mustonen says. “[We are] getting them to switch into renewable energies such as solar panels so that the ladies, the women in these camps, are the leaders or the experts, so there’s a set of gender equality and forward-looking, #metoo style element here. The ladies are taking leadership and also addressing a lot of these new technologies.”

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Three family members on a caribou hunt in the hills east of the Iñupiat community of Point Hope on the Chukchi Sea in northwest Alaska. Photo Credit: Nathaniel Wilder,

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