RCE Sundarbans - 2020

Intergenerational Transfer of Traditional Knowledge and Customary Sustainable Practices
Basic Information
Title of project : 
Intergenerational Transfer of Traditional Knowledge and Customary Sustainable Practices
Submitting RCE: 
RCE Sundarbans
Contributing organization(s) : 
• Unnayan Onneshan
• Department of Development Studies, University of Dhaka
• Kopotakkho College, Koyra
• Koyra Madinabag Secondary High School
• Siddiqia Dhakil Madrasa, Koyra
• 4 No. Koyra Govt. Primary School
• Koyra Bonojibi Bohumikhi Unnayan Samity (Koyra Forest Dependent Peoples’ Cooperative)
• Horinagar Bonojibi Bohumukhi Unnayan Samity (Horinagar Forest Dependent Peoples’ Cooperative), and
• Adibasi Munda Unnayan Samity (Indigenous Munda Cooperative)
Focal point(s) and affiliation(s)
Rashed Al Mahmud Titumir
Organizational Affiliation: 
Unnayan Onneshan and University of Dhaka
Format of project: 
Manuscript and PowerPoint
Language of project: 
Date of submission:
Friday, October 30, 2020
Additional resources: 
• Biodiversity Adaptation to Climate Change in the Sundarbans
• Traditional Resource Users, Claiming of Rights and Entitlements and Alternative Livelihoods in the Sundarbans
• Transformative pathways for human-nature relationship: An exploration through bidirectional causality in a composite mangrove ecosystems
SDG 4: Quality education: Target 4.7: By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles etc.
At what level is the policy operating?: 
SDG 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
At what level is the policy operating?: 
SDG 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Geographical & Education Information
Sundarbans, Koyra, Khulna
Address of focal point institution for project: 
Unnayan Onneshan
16/2 Indira Road
Farmgate, Dhaka
Target Audience:
Socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the area : 
The Sundarbans is located at the great delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna (GBM) rivers at the edge of Bay of Bengal and is the largest contiguous single-tract mangrove ecosystem in the world. The Sundarbans was recognized as a Natural World Heritage Site in 1997 by UNESCO and as a Ramsar Site of international importance. Various types of ecosystems (forest, coastal and wetland) make the Sundarbans home to uniquely adapted aquatic and terrestrial flora and fauna. A significant number of people maintains livelihoods by utilizing those resources and thus provides a unique hotspot for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use.
Description of sustainable development challenge(s) in the area the project addresses: 
The Sundarbans of Bangladesh, known as the lung of the country, now can be identified as an important case of ecologically vulnerable area in terms of degradation of biodiversity resources. Over the last few decades, it has been experiencing major ecological and physiographical changes and losing its resources due to both human interventions and climatic changes. Sea level rise and several natural disasters, caused by climate change, particularly put damaging impacts on the forest. The major anthropogenic causes of degradation are: illicit destruction, conversion of forestland into agriculture and aquaculture for shrimp cultivation etc.
September, 2019 to December, 2020
The traditional knowledge is usually acquired through experiences of close contact with the natural environment. Alongside, it can be argued that locals know the best strategies of sustainable usage of the resources. They apply their traditional knowledge, sustainable and customary practices for the conservation of biodiversity and nature. Intergenerational transfer of traditional knowledge and sustainable customary practices can significantly save the resources from being overexploited and misused. This might also turn out to be a good initiative since this will include people who are closely linked to the forest, i.e. people who are more knowledgeable and aware of about the forest and its resources compared to an outsider.
IPLCs maintain a few specific rules and practices while harvesting resources which are based on their traditional knowledge. They have some traditional customs and beliefs which are also consistent to resource conservation. Moreover, they are involved in innovating processes of newer techniques and methods from their own knowledge. This is basically to harvest crops in challenging situations, particularly regarding climate change patterns of and natural environment. The TRUs sensibly regard the forest as providers of their livelihoods and value the forest as their mind. Hence, they believe it ought to be protected from every kind of misuse and abuse for all generations. Therefore, they maintain some rules according to which the resources are harvested with absolute care and love for the nature. If their knowledge and practices can be transferred to the future generations, it can significantly help conserve the forest and its biodiversity, keeping a cooperation between human and nature and transferring knowledge to generations.
• This projects attempts to promote cooperation between human and nature in a way where the local and indigenous people can apply their Indigenous Local Knowledge (ILK) to sustainably utilize the resources of that locality and ecosystem through bringing out the traditional knowledge and sustainable customary practices of traditional resource users in the Sundarbans.
• The project aims at intergenerational transferring of traditional knowledge, sustainable and customary practices to the community, particularly to youth, women and children. Accordingly, it intends to portray some traditional rules and practices followed by the TRUs and promote them through education and training.
Activities and/or practices employed: 
• Organizing and mobilizing the IPLCs through three grassroots cooperatives for group consultations
• Identifying sustainable practices and preparing an inventory of traditional knowledge and sustainable practices by TRUs to be improved and adapted using a combination of traditional and scientific knowledge
• Verifying the findings through participatory discussion with the community people
• Finalizing the findings
• Start training, knowledge sharing and action in the field promoting sustainable utilization of the resources in the forest
• Reporting, documentation and dissemination of the key messages from the project
Size of academic audience: 
1) Traditional Knowledge, Institutions and Human Sociality in Sustainable Use and Conservation of Biodiversity of the Sundarbans of Bangladesh, in O. Saito et al. (eds.), Managing Socio-ecological Production Landscapes and Seascapes for Sustainable Communities in Asia, Science for Sustainable Societies, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-1133-2_5
2) The Sundarbans is our mind: An exploration into multiple values of nature in conversation with traditional resource users, in UNU-IAS and IGES (eds.), Understanding the multiple values associated with sustainable use in socio-ecological production landscapes and seascapes (Satoyama Initiative Thematic Review vol. 5), United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability, Tokyo. https://collections.unu.edu/eserv/UNU:7506/SITR_vol5_fullset_web.pdf
3) Sundarbans is Our Mind: Traditional Knowledge, Customary Sustainable Use and Community Based Innovation- An Ecosystem Based Biodiversity Outlook (Upcoming edited book).

Developed Practices:
Specific sustainable practices based on ILK includes- 1) Crab Culture, 2) Composite Community Plantation (CCP), 3) Golpata (Nypa fruticans) culture, 4) Honey and wax culture, 5) Pisciculture, and 6) Community Based Mangrove Agro Aqua Silvi (CMAAS) Culture

Course Materials:
1) Training module on crab culture, honey and wax culture, golpata culture, pisciculture, CCP and CMAAS
2) Case studies, handouts and PowerPoint presentation on crab culture, honey and wax culture, golpata culture, pisciculture, CCP and CMAAS
3) An inventory of traditional knowledge and customary sustainable practices
Lessons learned: 
• The project demonstrates that the traditional knowledge and customary rules of the local forest people are significant means of conserving the forest’s biodiversity. It reveals that the cultural beliefs of the TRUs act as foundations of their forms of practicing, which can be promoted as a long-term community-based adaptation measure to climate change. However, upscaling and promoting the project as a long-term adaptation measure is a big challenge due to shortage of funding.
• The contributions of IPLCs towards vulnerable ecosystems and knowledge regarding adaptation to changing ecosystems need to be promoted in the post 2020 CBD framework. However, it has remained as a big challenge in global level.
• There is lack of government’s recognition and adoption of traditional knowledge in formal rules and laws of the forest management though traditional knowledge system can significantly contribute to the sustainable management of biodiversity of resources, both within the protected areas system and potentially as other effective area-based conservation measures, if they are given a chance and are supported by government and non-government agencies.
Key messages: 
Intergenerational transfer of traditional knowledge and customary sustainable practices of traditional resource users (TRUs) can significantly work as a local community and nature based solution to climate change and promote sustainable consumption and production involving youth, women, children and indigenous and local communities as the key actors through education and training.
Relationship to other RCE activities: 
The project relates to the many themes, i.e. mangroves, indigenous and local communities etc., as a collaborative activities with several RCEs— particularly with RCE GPP, RCE Penang, RCE Cha am, RCE Kuching.
The project received funding from the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP), UK.


File Name Caption for picture Photo Credit
Image icon Pisciculture in the Sundarbans area.png (222.43 KB) Pisciculture in the Sundarbans area using traditional knowledge Unnayan Onneshan
Image icon TRUs drwaing resource map .png (266.21 KB) TRUs drawing resource map in a workshop Unnayan Onneshan
Image icon TRUs discussing on traditional knowledge .png (251.11 KB) TRUs discussing on traditional knowledge in a meeting Unnayan Onneshan
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
(https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs) and other themes of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
SDG 1 - End poverty in all its forms everywhere 
SDG 2 - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture 
SDG 3 - Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages 
SDG 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all 
SDG 5 - Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls 
SDG 6 - Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all 
SDG 7 - Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all 
SDG 8 - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all 
SDG 9 - Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation, and foster innovation 
SDG 10 - Reduce inequality within and among countries 
SDG 11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable 
SDG 12 - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns 
SDG 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts 
SDG 14 - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development 
SDG 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss 
SDG 16 - Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels 
SDG 17 - Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development 
Disaster Risk Reduction 
Traditional Knowledge  
Curriculum Development 
Plants & Animals 
ESD for 2030-Priority Action Areas
Priority Action Area 1 - Advancing policy 
Priority Action Area 2 - Transforming learning and training environments 
Priority Action Area 3 - Developing capacities of educators and trainers 
Priority Action Area 4 - Mobilizing youth 
Priority Action Area 5 - Accelerating sustainable solutions at local level