Biocultural Exchange, Bhutan Biocultural Exchange, Bhutan
Biocultural Exchange, Bhutan

Who We Are 

The International Network for Mountain Indigenous Peoples (INMIP) was established three years ago in the Himalayas of Bhutan among the ten participating countries of Bhutan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Taiwan, Tajikistan, and Thailand. INMIP was formed for capacity building in establishing and implementing Biocultural Heritage Territories and for sharing knowledge on climate change adaptation and the development of innovations that support resilience. INMIP is an important instrument for supporting implementation of local, national and international climate change programs and policies, and to strengthen sustainable management practices in mountain territories.

The network has celebrated three International Learning Exchanges (Bhutan in 2014, Tajikistan in 2015, and China in 2016) each producing a Declaration outlining key messages that call on governments, research and civil society organizations and the international community to recognize the value of biocultural heritage and traditional knowledge for strengthening natural resource management systems. INMIP annual Learning Exchange strengthens critical mass and provides a space for the sharing of traditional knowledge and practices for local food autonomy and climate governance.


Horizontal Learning Exchanges 

Horizontal Learning Exchanges use a participatory and transdisciplinary format for knowledge and information exchange that aim to generate cross-fertilization between knowledge management systems. It uses the methodology of: (1). Public Forums with the objective of generating debate on themes key to the mountain network and promoting visibility for the generation of new knowledge and (2). Experiential Knowledge Exchanges and Workshops that are carried out in a field-based format where the natural and human-engineered landscape is utilized to identify, assess, and implement innovative applications for natural resource management.

The model of Horizontal Learning Exchanges is rooted in the ¨Theory of Change,¨ where the processes of discovery and cooperative learning generate effective innovation that support indigenous mountain communities in adapting to climate change. It is an approach to facilitate the process of capacity-building at different scales (community, local, national and global authorities) and permits the vertical (scaling-up) and horizontal (scaling-out) replication to other realities and contexts. This ¨Theory of Change¨ underlies the exchange of knowledge and experiences as well as the generation of new knowledge and evidence to achieve local to global objectives.

The First International Learning Exchange INMIP was held in May 2014 in Bhutan where representatives from 25 indigenous mountain communities from 10 countries met to discuss the impacts of climate change and to exchange knowledge for adaptation. The Bhutan workshop gathered more than 70 farmers who established the International Network of Mountain Indigenous Peoples. With dedication to protecting biocultural heritage for climate resilience, participating farmers developed the Bhutan Declaration on Climate Change and Mountain Indigenous Peoples, a document that provides the vision for the network.

The Second International Learning Exchange was held the following year in September 2015 in Tajikistan, a highly mountainous country and centre of origin and diversity of several food crops. It brought together over 50 participants, representing 21 mountain communities from the 10 countries. Participants of the seven-day workshop documented climate change impacts since the Bhutan workshop, using the same assessment framework, exchanged techniques and tools for enhancing resilience, and agreed to establish international networks of Biocultural Heritage Territories and Community Seed Banks as collective responses for adaptation. The Tajikistan exchange consolidated INMIP as an institution for climate change innovation adaptation.

The Third International Learning Exchange took place in the Stone Village, Yunnan, China. China is a center of origin for Japanese millet, rice, buckwheat and soybean. The Stone Village is rich in crop diversity, including maize, buckwheat, soybean and wild relatives, and the ancient capital of the Naxi people. Settled in the Jinsha River Valley, 126 km northwest of Lijiang City at an altitude of 1720 meters, the Stone Village has over 1300 years of ancestral mountain farming history.

This year the Fourth International Learning Exchange was held in the Potato Park communities, Pisac, Peru with 34 representatives participating from 10 indigenous mountain countries in addition to local representatives from the Potato Park, Lares and Apurimac communities of Peru. The gathering was truly unique in its ability to bring together INMIP members from around the globe in support of climate change adaptation and the scaling up of effective innovations that enhance biodiversity, ecosystem integrity and cultural resilience. We look forward to sharing the video documentary that is being produced from the Potato Park footage and that will capture the methods, tools and procedures of the workshop.

Walking Workshop Inauguration at the Archaeological Ruins, Pisaq Walking Workshop Inauguration at the Archaeological Ruins, Pisaq
Walking Workshop Inauguration at the Archaeological Ruins, Pisaq

Tools of our Approach-

1.) Walking Workshop-

Horizontal Learning Exchanges use the Walking Workshop approach as its principal methodology for amplifying creativity and inspiration between participants and promoting idea creation, knowledge exchange and the formulation of strategic alliances. The Walking Workshop methodology involves the transfer of knowledge and/or skills through horizontal learning and collective action in an atypical conference style and field-based format. The open-air workshop site encourages experiential and participatory learning using the surrounding ecosystem features as an alternate venue space for field-practitioners. More generally, biocultural exchanges promote cross-fertilization between knowledge systems and are an important tool for generating evidence for policy advocacy on climate change impacts.

The Walking Workshop methodology has traditionally been applied as an indigenous form of transecting that uses surrounding landscape elements to identify risk and uncertainty to ecosystem resilience and to propose possible alternatives to the identified challenges. The exchange approach is a process in continuous development that is built on the sharing of knowledge and practices and that can be adapted to diverse social and environmental fabrics.

ANDES has further developed the Walking Workshop format as a means to fuel creativity and innovation and to generate new knowledge that strengthens adaptive capacity to local-global challenges. It opens a space for sharing interests, needs and challenges of each community and to find commons themes and challenges (glacier melt, water management systems, transmission of traditional knowledge, extractive industry, and out-migration).

2.) Biocultural Festival- 

Biocultural Festivals are an important tool of Horizontal Learning Exchanges for the sharing of traditional cultural expressions of dance, music, poetry as well as diverse food dishes and traditional methods of food preparation from across mountain cultures. Country teams are encouraged in the days before traveling to the workshop site to pre-plan their dishes and to bring traditional food ingredients from their home-countries including spices, dried fruit, and typical staple foods.  In past exchanges, culinary contributions have included traditional buckwheat noodles from Bhutan, ground cassava from Kenya, sago (starch from a palm tree that grows in swamps) from Papua New Guinea, osh from Tajikistan and sweet coffee from Taiwan.

Biocultural Festival, Community of Chahuytire, Potato Park Biocultural Festival, Community of Chahuytire, Potato Park
Biocultural Festival, Community of Chahuytire, Potato Park