“Local,” “indigenous,” and “traditional” knowledge are emerging as important categories in environment-development policy-making. This paper provides an overview of international policies and programs for addressing these historically marginalized ways of knowing, and explores how the World Bank, and processes under the Convention to Combat Desertification, and the Convention on Biological Diversity are attempting to incorporate “other” knowledges and knowledge holders. The study argues that long-standing assumptions and practices of multilateral policy-making are often at odds with the new perspectives for which these knowledges presumably provide a vehicle. On the one hand, policy-making bodies cite “other” knowledges as alternatives to technocratic problem-solving methods of earlier decades because they are unique and situated, holistic and processual. On the other hand, international institutions are attempting to systematize “other” knowledges in ways that seem poised to render them standardized and universal, compartmental, and instrumental.

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