Indigenous Land Use Agreements & Sustainable Development

Indigenous traditional knowledge represents a different perspective on the environment, causes and consequences of environmental change, natural resource management and social interactions. North American experience, makes it very clear that there are major benefits for better-informed environmental decision-making when traditional knowledge is incorporated as part of the participatory process.

Opportunities for promoting Indigenous traditional knowledge in environmental conflicts may arise by voluntary agreement by those participating e.g. if ADR is used; alternatively, as a legal obligation provided for in legislation:-

(i)        In Australia, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) recognizes traditional knowledge on biodiversity and sustainable use of the natural environment as an object of this Commonwealth Act. It is also one means for achieving the object of the Act.  A key object the Commonwealth parliament sought in making this Act is sustainable development.

(ii)      In the USA, the regulatory framework for the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 provides a pathway, in the environmental impact process, for traditional knowledge to complement western scientific knowledge, where the environmental impacts of a development proposal are on Indian Tribal lands.

For a Microsoft PowerPoint (pdf) presentation made at the National Native Title Law Summit (LexisNexis) Brisbane, 15 July 2009, linking sustainability, traditional knowledge and "Indigenous land use agreements", click on the following  LINK

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