VITEK “Conservation Campus” Session at WCC 5

VITEK “Conservation Campus” Session at WCC 5

From the VITEK study in Kayama. Photo: Stanford Zent

From the VITEK study in Kayama. Photo: Stanford Zent

On September 9, 2012, Terralingua held a “Conservation Campus” session on our Vitality Index of Traditional Environmental Knowledge (VITEK) at the 5th World Conservation Congress. The Conservation Campus was a special venue at the congress, devoted to extended learning opportunities on topics related to the preservation of nature. We gave a day-long training workshop on the purpose and applications of the VITEK, titled “The VITEK Indicator: A New Method for Measuring the Retention or Change of Traditional Knowledge” [ http://portals.iucn.org/2012forum/?q=0635].

Session participants engaged in an interactive “build your own VITEK” exercise, designed to provide hands-on experience on how to apply the VITEK methodology. VITEK developer Dr. Stanford Zent led the exercise, in which we created an imaginary indigenous community setting, and then gathered and analyzed the imaginary community’s traditional environmental knowledge (TEK). Following the methodological steps from start to finish, we ended up with the resulting graph that showed trend data on the intergenerational transmission of TEK in that “community”.

As background for the session, we had prepared a VITEK introductory manual, which is now available on our downloads page. We plan to expand this booklet in the next few months, as part of our planned “Biocultural Diversity Conservation Toolkit”.

Participants found the VITEK exercise very informative and useful. The session spurred interest in the possibility for Terralingua to offer VITEK workshops in various parts of the world. We are now exploring some initial prospects for workshops in the Asia-Pacific region, but would welcome proposals for holding workshops in other regions as well. Anyone interested is invited to contact Terralingua Director Luisa Maffi at maffi@terralingua.org.

In his invited speech at this session, Gonzalo Oviedo, IUCN’s Senior Social Policy Advisor, also stressed the importance of the VITEK for policy, especially as an indicator relevant to the CBD’s biodiversity conservation targets. Last year, IUCN recommended the VITEK to the CBD as an indicator for directly measuring the state and trends of TEK. It is now up to the CBD COP to decide whether to include such an indicator within the Aichi Targets.

 

 

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