Traditional Ecological Knowledge

Indigenous Approaches to freshwater management in North America

What is the importance of the Indigenous Approaches to freshwater management?

Water is an essential resource for life, health, the eradication of poverty and hunger, combating desertification and biodiversity loss, and to promote a socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable, resilient, equitable, peaceful, and inclusive future for all.

Water conservation and management is not an easy task. Daily, our freshwater sources face contamination, over-exploitation, and mismanagement, among many other problems due to human activities. Indigenous peoples´ traditional cultures and knowledge systems are globally recognized as holding critical information related to achieving sustainable practices in water management. Indigenous communities have successfully used such knowledge for the benefit of their territories and for society generally. Therefore, appreciation of Indigenous peoples´ perspectives is essential to advancing inclusive and diverse sustainable environmental management approaches to meeting global goals, and to institutionalizing the inclusion of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) in science and policy spheres.

Our work on the Indigenous Approaches to freshwater management in North America

The CEC online Knowledge Dialogue, “Application of Indigenous Knowledge in Water Management: Best Practice Models” held on November 22nd 2023; presented selected cases from North America to showcase the use, application, and significance of Indigenous knowledge (tools, approaches, and methods) within the context of freshwater management. The Knowledge Dialogue served as a space for exchanging and sharing experiences and for influencing policymaking.

On November 28th and 29th, 2023, the Trinational Forum on Indigenous Approaches to Freshwater Management took place, organized by the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CCA) and the Expert Group on Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEKEG) in Oaxaca, Mexico. The forum explored the fundamental role of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), custodianship practices, and their intersection with Indigenous rights in freshwater management in North America, now part of the broader CCA project titled Indigenous Freshwater Approaches in North America.

Indigenous Peoples from the three countries (Mexico, the United States, and Canada) gathered for two days to discuss the importance of incorporating traditional knowledge into water management experiences. The event was structured into five sessions to identify key challenges, solutions, and recommendations for improving freshwater management in the region and incorporating Indigenous Peoples’ perspectives.


Gregorio Chable Cuy
María Lazaro
There was only water in the begining