UNU-IAS Operating Unit Ishikawa Kanazawa (OUIK), in partnership with the Rural Development Administration, Republic of Korea (RDA) held two online consultation workshops on monitoring of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) with practitioners and representatives from Korea GIAHS sites on 6 October 2021 @ 13:00-16:00 and with Japan GIAHS sites on 13 October 2021 @ 13:00-16:00.
UNU-IAS OUIK and the RDA has been collaborating since 2018 on a research project, “Introduction of Technologies on Characteristic Analysis and Conservation Management in Agricultural Heritage Systems.” The aim of the project is to develop indicators and guidelines for monitoring the sustainability of GIAHS based on the experiences in Korea and Japan.
To that end, UNU-IAS OUIK and RDA held consultation workshops with GIAHS stakeholders in both countries to receive their views on the monitoring criteria and indicators developed by the research project, mainly with the objective to 1) assess their feasibility, 2) discuss challenges and potential solutions to data collection and meaningful utilization, and 3) identify linkages between GIAHS and SDGs as a broader framework for sustainability.
(Left) GIAHS monitoring workshop, Korea on 6 October 2021 and (right) Japan on 13 October 2021
The following key learnings emerged from the two workshops.
- Monitoring of GIAHS should be guided by key, basic principles. Chiefly among them are: 1) clearly defining the value and purpose of monitoring to ensure that the data collection is meaningful; 2) striking a balance between broader objectives and GIAHS-specific goals to track important changes without burdening the stakeholders; 3) setting realistic expectations around monitoring and understanding that it cannot detect all elements of GIAHS given the system’s complexity and gaps between cycles; 4) adequately staffing for and funding monitoring activities, inclusive of third-party assessments and capacity building of local residents for participatory monitoring; and 5) identifying strategic ways for sharing monitoring results, to properly leverage their potential to pave pathways to new ideas, determine strategic direction, and guide action plans.
- Monitoring indicators need to be applicable, feasible, and relevant. There should be a set of standard indicators, while reserving a mechanism for contextualization, to accommodate to the diversity of needs, environmental features, and cultural practices across GIAHS sites, as well as data collection challenges due to sensitivities and hard-to-access physical landscapes. Unquantifiable data can be complemented with surveys to understand residents’ knowledge, attitude, and perception of GIAHS, as well as ongoing activities of local cooperatives and interest groups. Technical guidance of the GIAHS monitoring would help empower GIAHS sites with increased capacities, including monitoring process design and connecting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with GIAHS conservation. Specifically, SDGs could be used as a platform to raise public awareness of GIAHS and to strengthen the messaging around GIAHS’ potential in contributing to the sustainability of society, environment, culture, and way of life.
Building on this rich conversation, UNU-IAS OUIK and the RDA will jointly host the Conservation and Strengthening the Value of Agricultural Heritage in the New Normal Era Symposium on 5 November 2021 at 14:00-17:00 JST. Specifically, the symposium will aim to 1) discuss ways to sustainably conserve agricultural heritage and strengthen its value during times of change under the COVID-19 pandemic; and 2) share best practices to date and potential directions for the conservation and management of GIAHS. For the further information, please click here.