• Lead-organizer: South Africa
  • 13:30 - 15:00
  • Date: 17 Jun 2012
  • Room: P3-1

African Young Scientist Initiative on Climate Change and IKS

Organizing partners

Department of Science and Technology

University of North West

University of KwaZulu Natal

NEPAD - New Partnership for Africa's Development


The African Young Scientists Initiative on Climate Change and Indigenous Knowledge Systems (AYSICCIKS) seeks to participate in Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 2012. The Initiative will organize a round table discussion and mini-exhibition to promote and showcase examples of African best practices on: the Role of African Young Scientists in Promoting Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) for Sustainable Livelihoods within the context of climate change. The focus will be on the role of IKS in food security, natural resource management and health. The objectives are to share experiences with the international community on the outcome of AYSICCIKS?s participation and deliberations at COP 17 in Durban (2011); and to enable African young scientists to build international networks on IKS, Climate Change and sustainable development.

Detailed programme

The Initiative to participate at RIO +20 is based on the rationale that African countries face twofold-challenges under changing climatic conditions and their poverty situation: They have to counter the adverse effects of climate change, while at the same time often lagging behind in terms of agricultural productivity and hence food security. Yet, many African countries and communities have a lot to offer with regard to climate change adaptation and mitigation. In terms of the reduction of Green House Gases (GHG) emissions respectively, African countries could safeguard carbon sinks through sustainable agriculture and rangeland management. On the issue of adaptation and risk-response, African local communities have for centuries developed various Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) of coping with climate change.

In the context of this climate change initiative, African Indigenous Knowledge Systems include knowledge of early warning systems, e.g. through the behaviours of living organisms, the monitoring of short term weather cycles, as well as long term experiences with climatic variability and use of appropriate livestock breeds, plant varieties, and resource management practices, such as mixed cropping practices, which involve the cultivation of different types of crops including root crops (cassava, sweet potatoes) on the same piece of land that could be harvested at different periods of the year, ensuring food security and maintaining soil fertility throughout the year.

African IKS form one of the significant sources of locally and culturally accepted climate change adaptation and mitigation measures which are accessible and hence ensure sustainability. They also have a high potential for contributing to the global body of knowledge on climate change adaptation and mitigation if properly documented and affirmed/validated and shared. Most of the African indigenous knowledge on climate change adaptation and mitigation is resident in older members of the communities, hence threatening its sustainability and minimising its potential to contribute to the global knowledge pool. It is, therefore, important that such knowledge is properly shared with the younger generations to ensure its sustainability and successful application to meet current and future developmental challenges including climate change.

The African younger generations have a high potential to mobilise communities to respond to climate change as a challenge of their generation. They live in these communities; know the local cultures including languages and are among the most vulnerable social groups affected by the adverse effects of climate change, especially the depletion of natural resources which lead to limited employment opportunities and poverty and hence vulnerable to risk behaviours such as prostitution, drug abuse, etc. which lead dreadful diseases such as HIV/AIDS, etc. Therefore, if properly mobilised and supported, the youth who form the majority of the African population, can make a sustainable difference in minimising the impact of climate change at national, regional, continental and global levels.


1st Key Message: The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples should be a key international standard and framework for the realization of sustainable development.

2nd Key Message: The cultural pillar should be included as the 4th pillar of sustainable development.

3rd Key Message: Protection and respect for the rights to Indigenous communities to their lands, territories and resources is a precondition for sustainable development.

4th Message: Recognition of the distinct and crucial contribution of traditional knowledge and diverse local economies to poverty eradication and sustainable development and as the cornerstones of green economies.


Dr Y Seleti
Prof H. Khaya
Mr M Koitsiwe
Prof Ijumba
NEPAD representative

Copyright (c) United Nations 2011 | Terms of Use | Privacy Notice | Contact | Site Map | New