Linking Nature, Knowledge and Practices


Some unique features of traditional knowledge are its diversity and its dynamic nature, which evolves in response to new challenges. Across sectors, it can be seen that some of the knowledge is codified, and some is even institutionalized. These range from highly developed ways of perception and understanding, classification systems (ethno-taxonomies) to metaphysical precepts. The level of expertise, unlike modern science, is heterogeneous and therefore internal validation methods differ substantially despite an underlying philosophical principle of the interconnectedness of the social and natural worlds.

Conventional approaches of natural product chemistry-driven health care solutions are time-consuming and resource-intensive. Community health contexts require simpler and rapid assessments. Traditional medical approaches have been tested over time empirically albeit without adequate documentation. A major challenge thus is to document such experiences and thereby foster a participatory learning process to identify and supplement current practices in a culturally sensitive way.

Traditional health practitioners (THPs) are widely dispersed ranging from institutionalized practitioners to households, taking care of the health needs within their families, villages or neighbourhoods. Easy access, cost efficacy, cultural familiarity by healers, flexible fee payment systems (at times outcome payment) and perceived efficacy are characteristic reasons why patients choose such therapies. These systems are highly dependent on biological resources and hence, the sustenance of their practices depends on sustainable use of the resources. Given that traditional medicine products range from those developed for local use to those produced in large volumes for various market segments, it is imperative that appropriate, culture sensitive and inclusive ways of ensuring conservation and health for different sections of populations be developed.

Relevance for the Sustainable Development Goals
Links to current proposed goals to

  • Attain healthy life for all
  • Tackle climate change & impacts
  • Promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth
  • Promote sustainable use of ecosystems & stem biodiversity loss
  • Promote sustainable production & consumption patterns

Relevance for the Aichi targets

Target 3: Incentives and subsidies for sustainable use
Target 5: Reduce loss of habitats
Target 11: Conserve protected areas, water ecosystems
Target 12: Reverse decline in threatened species
Target 14: Sustain ecosystem services for the vulnerable

Case Study: Medicinal Plants Conservation Centrep

Medicinal Plants Conservation Centre – India from Equator Initiative on Vimeo.