Executive Director, Actions pour l’Environnement et le Développement (ACED), Benin
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the most integrated and comprehensive blueprint to ensure that all nations achieve socio-economic development while protecting the environment and reducing inequality. Together with the African Union Agenda 2063, the SDGs offer an effective development pathway for African countries. However, for the continent to effectively utilize these development blueprints, it is important to harness its indigenous knowledge as a key asset for pursuing the Goals. Africa’s rural and local communities are known to have vast knowledge on how to solve the problems they are facing from combatting climate change to improving food security. For example, in southern Benin, local communities revealed that the appearance of toucans is an indicator that the rainy season is about to start, while the appearance of bulbucus ibis (the cattle egret, a cosmopolitan species of heron) showed that the rainy season is over. Such natural indicators are used by local communities to cope with climate variability. Much of this indigenous knowledge is confirmed by scientific research.
Therefore, integrating scientific and indigenous knowledge would accelerate the development of solutions to achieve the SDGs especially the SDG 1 (No Poverty), SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-Being for people), and SDG 13 (Climate Action). As such, knowledge theorists and practitioners are called to identify ways of capturing, documenting and sharing indigenous knowledge, and integrating them with scientific knowledge. The implementation of the Agenda Knowledge for Development could facilitate collaboration with development stakeholders to ensure that the knowledge co-creation process is effective and indigenous knowledge is mainstreamed in the planning and implementation of SDGs development programs.