Dr. Maureen Reed

Dr. Reed’s research focuses on practices of governance that support the sustainability of local ecosystems, livelihoods, and communities that rely on them.  Learn more.

Dr. James Robson

Dr. Robson's substantive area of expertise lies in interdisciplinary and applied environmental research, with special emphasis on the drivers and impacts of demographic, social, and environmental changes as they affect remote and rural communities.  Learn more.

Program Summary

Through collaboration and common action, the co-chairs and partners will develop programs of knowledge co-creation and exchange (involving research, education, and co-learning) that explicitly support biocultural diversity and sustainable development. These progams will create avenues for reconciliation and the renewal of respectful and responsible relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and institutions. Along with their partners, the co-chairs will respect and foster cultural and biological diversity to demonstrate how Indigenous and Western knowledge, practices, and institutions can work together to promote productive and biodiverse landscapes and territories. They will develop common learning platforms, international exchanges, and opportunities for sharing innovative ideas, methods, technologies, and institutional adaptations, and, in doing so, build North-North, North-South, and South-South networks of knowledge and practice. The proposed work will maintain a focus on youth participation as well as the changing roles of men and women in Indigenous life and governance.


A Future of Forest Work youth visioning workshop held in Madre de Dios, Peru in 2017.

In Canada and Latin America, development has driven the unsustainable exploitation of natural resources and the marginalization of Indigenous women and men. Today, Indigenous peoples are gaining recognition, rights, and responsibilities for sustainable development, which is reflected in various international conventions and commitments (UNFCCC, UNCBD, UNDRIP, UN-SDGs). The emergence of Indigenous-led modern treaties such as The Buffalo Treaty add to efforts to renew and restore relationships among lands, biodiversity, and people and to share knowledge for ecological and cultural restoration. 

Sustainability requires deliberate processes of reconciliation, described by Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2015) as the ongoing establishment and maintenance of respectful relationships among peoples and cultures and between peoples and natural environments. The work program presented here views sustainability as being inextricably linked to the reconciliation of three imperatives – ecological, economic, and social – and the “adoption of an integrated, problem-solving approach that draws upon scientific, traditional and Indigenous knowledge, in a trans-disciplinary way, to identify, understand and address present and future societal challenges.”  Our network of committed Indigenous, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and university partners in Canada, Latin America, and South Africa will co-produce, exchange, and mobilize knowledge in support of Indigenous livelihoods, economies, and governance arrangements that draw on and promote the sustainable use of biocultural heritage and diversity.

Chair Program Objectives

The primary, long-term objective is to promote biocultural diversity and sustainability through community-based, participatory action research and knowledge exchange, and reciprocal and responsible relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, scholars, students, communities, knowledge-keepers, governments, non-governmental organizations, and practitioners. By harnessing the insights and experiences of these individuals in Canada, Latin America, and South Africa, the co-chairs and partners will:

    1. Document and address the opportunities and challenges related to biocultural diversity, sustainability, and gender equality;
    2. Demonstrate innovations in sustainability adaptations, practices, and governance founded on knowledge co-production “that draws on the full range of scientific, traditional and Indigenous knowledge in a trans-disciplinary way” (UNESCO MAB Strategy 2015-2025); and
    3. Enhance mutual understanding and relations among partners and between elders and youth through knowledge co-production, sharing, learning, and education.