Indigenous Knowledge and Sustainability
The paper aims to describe indigenous philosophy, which is also known as local or traditional knowledge, as the basis for understanding the pre-requisites for achieving local sustainability. It explores the nature of indigenous beliefs and practices, spiritual experience, culture and geo-environmental conditions as represented in indigenous lifestyle, folklore, stories, proverbs, wisdom and interpretation of natural phenomena, all of which encompass aspects of long-term sustainability. The indigenous philosopher-elders, though mostly without formal education, possess excellent aptitudes for directing people towards individual, social, cultural, economic and ecological sustainability. The paper argues that non-indigenous settlers in any country of the world have to learn from the local indigenous beliefs and practices in order to understand the new environment. There is a growing awareness among the developed countries such as Australia as well as among the developing countries such as Bangladesh that the culture of their respective indigenous communities embodies “reverence” for the environmental “sacred” resources. It is argued that reverence for any natural sacred entities including sacred land, people, animals, plants and waters, helps gain knowledge and wisdom about the locality and that the guiding development philosophy should be “prevention is better than cure”. The paper concludes that indigenous philosophy, knowledge and traditions can be integrated in the educational curriculum to enrich our vision and practices for achieving sustainability.
Keywords: Traditional Philosophy, Sustainable Development, Local Knowledge
Prof. Dora Marinova
Associate Professor and Head of School, Institute for Sustainability and Technology Policy (ISTP), Murdoch University
Dr Amzad Hossain
Honourary Researcher, ISTP, Murdoch University