From July 13 to 15, 2018, the 9th National Conference on Ethnobotany and the 8th Asia-pacific Forum on Ethnobotany are successfully held in Kunming.
The theme of the conference is “Ethnobotany and the ‘The Belt and Road’ Cross-Regional Communication Development”. The conference aims to further promotes ethnobotany in China and the Asia-Pacific region, provides academic exchange opportunities for the Belt and Road green development, shares research results and progress, and discusses how to deal with the challenges.
More than 305 representatives from more than 90 universities, research institutes, societies, and non-government institutions in China, UK, US, Thailand, Myanmar, South Korea, Tajikistan, Pakistan and South Africa attended the conference.
Based on the full exchange and discussion of the plenary session, the organizing committee of the conference, the Second Council of the Ethnobotany Branch and the experts from the countries along the Belt and Road Initiative reached a consensus and drafted the “Kunming Declaration on Biodiversity and Traditional Knowledge Conservation of the Belt & Road Countries”.
This declaration was released at the closing ceremony of the conference and formed an important outcome of the conference.
“Kunming Declaration on Biodiversity and Traditional Knowledge Conservation of the Belt & Road Countries” stress the following:
Ethnobotany is an interdisciplinary subject that transcends the boundaries between botany, ecology, anthropology and ethnology. Its application to issues of conservation and management of natural resources allows full use to be made of the invaluable pool of knowledge about plants held by communities. Given the harsh environmental degradation with which are faced today and the currently limited amount of international cooperation, the representatives attending the 9th National Conference on Ethnobotany and the 8th Asia-Pacific Forum on Ethnobotany decided to propose a Kunming Declaration on Biodiversity and Traditional Knowledge Conservation among Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) countries.
As the BRI gains momentum through reciprocal actions and overhauls of infrastructure, the entrepreneurial sector needs more systemic and constructive guidance from ethnobotanists and ethnoecologists to ensure that the basic ecological health of the landscape is maintained, especially in regions that are ecologically vulnerable or are biodiversity hotspots. The Chinese government has already declared that the success of China's contribution to the BRI will be judged, not only in terms of economic growth, but in terms of ecological health and optimization of the use of natural resources - the concept of the Green Silk Road. There is a need to find ways to strengthen conservation of biodiversity and linked traditional knowledge through undertaking collaborative research on mechanisms of access and profit/benefit sharing. New ways are needed to increase the effectiveness of public advocacy to create more awareness of the importance of conserving the flora and fauna. Environmental education needs strengthening. We propose the following mechanisms, targeting at particular sectors of society, to strengthen green investment, sustainable eco-design, information exchange and awareness-raising.
BRI Biodiversity Conservation Alliance: bringing together top-ranking universities, think tanks and the national science academies of BRI countries, the alliance will be responsible for developing a base of relevant knowledge, platforms for sharing and transferring knowledge, mechanisms to assist in determining intellectual property ownership and profit-sharing arrangements, and provision of intellectual support to communities when they establish agreements.
BRI Biodiversity Foundation: bringing together public and major private universities, national science academies and international conservation groups, the foundation will design umbrella conservation strategies and framework plans for biodiversity hotspots, ecologically sensitive areas and regions affected by ecological degradation. It will focus on the systematic documentation and mapping of endangered biodiversity, biological resources and indigenous knowledge. Its work will be orientated towards effective application at community level through national-level facilitation and benefitting from international cooperation.
BRI Investment and Global Eco-governance Committee: bringing together international companies, the investment sections of governments, ecological research think tanks and international organizations concerned with corporate responsibility, the committee will provide timely and exhaustive reports and green books on conservation of biodiversity, indigenous knowledge and sacred landscapes, intended for the use of investors and those engaged in developing investment strategies. These materials will offer international green investment flagship projects and guidelines on best practice. The committee will take a pro-active approach, maintaining momentum by offering on-going monitoring reports, advice on corporate green and social responsibility, and assessments of the bio-impacts of mega-projects.
BRI Conservation and Scientific Advocacy Media Consortium: bringing together international media, scientific journals, entrepreneurial media and international media NGOs, the consortium will communicate to the general public and targeted audiences’ urgent issues requiring coordinated responses and concerted efforts. The consortium will seek new ways and perspective to increase effective communication between BRI countries.
BRI Traditional Knowledge Research and Conservation Alliance: working together with universities, relevant governmental and non-governmental research institutes, as well as non-material cultural heritage protection agencies, the alliance will conduct survey and inventory of traditional knowledge of all ethnic groups, study and summarize their traditional ecological culture, ethics and wisdom, setup database of traditional knowledge, establish network of key successors of traditional knowledge, and promotes traditional knowledge conservation and transmission among BRI countries.
(Editor: YANG Mei)