The Oldest Form of Conservation Science | COP 15 Shared Wisdom Exhibition
The CBD’s 2050 Vision for Biodiversity is a world of living in harmony with nature. In fact, living in harmony with nature is not a completely innovative idea. Indigenous communities have lived in symbiosis with nature since time immemorial, protecting sacred lands and spiritual homes for all people, although these contributions are often not understood by most.
In 2021, Shan Shui participated in the collection of 100+ Biodiversity Positive Practices and Actions Around the World, which led to us stepping out of our general work area and bearing witness to the shared ecological wisdom of the world, especially from Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities. Hence the idea for this Shared Wisdom exhibition at the second phase of COP15 in Montreal, Canada. In the hope that by collecting and presenting the traditional knowledge and wisdom from Indigenous communities around the world, we can provide inspiration and hope for reaching our 2050 Vision.
The exhibition developed two intertwined threads: for one, reaching out to global nature conservation partners, collecting photos and videos of local communities under the theme #sharedwisdom, presenting stories from Africa, South and North America，Asia etc., The other thread leads us to the hope of conserving Medog, the last pristine land rising from tropical rainforest to snow-capped mountains.
The #SharedWisdom exhibition greets and thanks communities at the forefront of conservation around the world through an integration of visual artworks. The works come from different cultures and geography separated by thousands of mountains and rivers. The exhibition, as wonderfully put in Local Biodiversity Outlook 2, hopes to show that “Indigenous ways of knowing and being evoke and inspire new narratives and visions of culture and nature working together within a living and sacred Earth.”
About the Exhibition
The Exhibit is held at Montreal Convention Center during 7th -19th Dec，2022.
The 3m*6m booth is decorated with photographs, handicrafts and 2 screens, one showing more videos and photos collected from around the word, and the other presenting interactive artwork Hidden Land.
“…this process is also an inspiration to someone like me who is not a professional conservationist. Having long distanced from the diverse, rich, and vivid symbiosis wisdom, we are often unaware of how much dependence we still have on nature. Preparing this exhibition is also an opportunity to reflect on ourselves, on our lost emotions and consciousness.” – Tian Chuan, （Artist，Lucy & the Nerds）
“As a scientist, my whole working life is immersed in conservation. It’s an honour to tribute this exhibition to the ecological wisdom of indigenous peoples and local communities – the oldest form of conservation science. I hope it is enlightening to our audiences, as much as it has been to me – this world view of Oneness of People and Nature” – Lu Zhi ()
At the Exhibit
Representatives from countries including Tanzania, Iceland and Colombia left #SharedWisdom in their language, becoming parts of the artworks.
Visitor from Tanzania wrote #SharedWisdom in her local language
The Exhibit also brought handicrafts from Phadrokpha Cooperation, Gyatong Women’s Handicraft and the Three River Source Designer Union, visitors were happy to purchase these handicrafts and support these communities from afar.
Woolfelt Tibetan fox, snow leopard, red fox and carpet.
More importantly, the Exhibit became a place for communication, interaction and connection. Representatives from governments, NGOs and enterprises meet here and discuss topics relating to indigenous communities, share stories from their work.
Highlights of the Artworks
Sacred Bird Tibetan Bunting
Made by: Tashi Sangpo, Nyanpo Yutse Conservation Association (China)
Nyanpo Yutse, Golok, China
Tibetan bunting is an endangered bird that only lives in the eastern Tibetan Plateau. Often found near villages, their survival is tied to human behaviours. Animals are part of the sacred mountain. Therefore, I drew a pair of Tibetan Buntings on a traditional Tibetan Thangka and invited all respected monasteries around the sacred mountain to bless the bird. The ritual proved Tibetan bunting’s status as sacred bird, which is now recognized and protected by villagers.
Hazabe Tribe, Tanzania
Photographer: Lu Mingyi (China) Faye Lu, Partner and Chief Impact Officer of Wildbound Education, Co-founder of CELU Studio
Hunting with the Hazabe hunter-gatherer tribe in Tanzania. They were profoundly in tune with the sounds and signs of the natural world; they were well aware of where to find a source of water, and which tracks would lead them to find which animal. I was astonished by their ability, and realised that maybe it was me who had lost this basic instinct
Photographer: ABu (China) Founder of Huotang Culture Association Menglian,
Pu’er, Yunnan, China
Photographer: ABu (China) Founder of Huotang Culture Association Menglian, Pu’er, Yunnan, China Homecoming
The Akha, Lahu and Wa people live at the foot of Black Mountain of Menglian in Yunnan Province,China, are friendly with each other. They all believe that everything has spirituality, and in sacred mountains. Under every big tree lives a spirit. Akha people believe that people live in an omnipotent forest, and conduct ceremonies to pay tribute to the sacred forests and the holy water every year as a traditioin. Every family needs to carry water from the holy water source for cleansing and preparing ceremonial food. Children are taught at young age to keep a pure soul and pay respect to the mountain and water.
“Celebrating the Territory of Life
Photo credit:Nsombou Abalahe-Dza Association(NADA)
Republic of Gabon
Denise Ekiayong-Minko, Chantal Ngmigone-Ngwa and other members of the I’Association Ebveng Edzuameniene (A2E), northeastern Gabon, conduct a cultural celebration of their territory of life in collaboration with Nsombou Abalghe-DzaAssociation (NADA) and with support from the Paul K Feverabend Foundation.
#SharedWisdom Ways of Knowing and Ways of Being (Video)
Format: Photo Compilation and Short Videos
Compiled by Qiu Bi, with video/photo/material contributions from #sharedwisdom #sharedwisdom partners around the planet.
Shan Shui Conservation Center
Medog, Tibetan Autonomous Region, China
The valley, hidden deep on the southern slope of the Himalayas in China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, retains the most intact primary forest in China, a full spectrum of vertical vegetation zones from tropical to glacial, shelters many wild animals and plants yet to be discovered by science, and supports indigenous people’s traditional way of life. This film shows the discoveries from infrared cameras over the course of a single year, and expresses the hope that while in pursuit of better living conditions for people, the pristine nature will remain.
Artist: Celyn Bricker, Celu studio,
Hidden Lands is an artwork exploring the unique ecosystem of the Medog region of China. This interactive artwork uses artificial intelligence to synthesize the diverse aspects of this ecosystem – which ranges from glaciers to rainforests – and is only fully visible if it is being directly observed. By requiring the presence of the observer to complete the work, Hidden Lands reminds us of the connection between ourselves and these fragile ecosystems, as well as the attention we need to pay to them. The piece also takes inspiration from the local community, who when speaking of the unique landscape, plants and animals that live there, described it as a place that ‘will remain hidden until the time is right for it to be revealed’.
Last but not Least
This exhibition has grown slowly out of a time of much uncertainty. For this reason, we chose a flexible format such as video, photo and community handcraft work. Although the magnitudes might be different, such uncertainty is the exact challenge that nature conservation has to face today. Being practical and with perseverance, we somehow always managed to transform the challenges, into what will be a loving and hopeful presentation.
Through this exhibition, we use contemporary communication vocabulary and work with contributors from all over the world to jointly compile and enrich what #sharedwisdom entails, trying to explore a prospect that is inclusive of people and nature. As first-time curators for such exhibition, we walked forward by feeling the pebbles underneath, stumbling, learning, and constantly clarifying. This exhibition today – a space between you and the future. Here is looking forward to your homecoming journey, to come back to our Mother Earth.
China Environmental Protection Foundation, China Green Carbon Foundation, China Foundation for rural development, GAC. Toyota; CICC Charity Foundation, Douyin Group CSR, Kering Group, UNDP GEF SGP, ICCA consortium
Shan Shui Conservation Center, Peking University Center for Nature and Society, Lucy & the Nerds, QBVISION, Global Environmental Institute, Farmers’ Seed Network of China (FSN), From Our Eyes
Our sincere gratitude to following institutions and individuals for their video/photo/language/logistic support
国家林业与草原局National Forestry and Grassland Administration of China
西藏林业与草原局Forestry and Grassland Administration of Tibet Autonomous Region
三江源国家公园管理局 Sanjiangyuan National Park Administration
玉树州人民政府 The People’s Government of Yushu Prefecture
墨脱林业与草原局Forestry and Grassland Administration of Medog County
中国野生生物影像年赛 China Wildlife Image and Video Competition
阿拉善SEE基金会 SEE foundation
嘉道理农场暨植物园 Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden
云山保护 Cloud Mountain Conservation
年保玉则生态环境保护协会 Nyanpo Yutse Conservation Association
善觉甘加环保志愿者团队 Shan Jue Environmental Volunteer Team
普洱市火塘文化社 Huotang Cu ture Association
帕卓巴合作社 Phadrokbha Coop
青海省玉树州曲麻莱县措池村 Cuochi Village of Qinghai, China
称多县珍秦二村 Zhenqin No.2 Village of Qinghai, China
云南省普洱市孟连县大黑山社区 Lafu and Heji Village of Yunnan, China
International Buffalo Relations Institute, US
Asociación de Cazadores de El Valle Chocó, Colombia
Yale Ecology and Religion forum, US
Foundation FIDEPE, Cameroon Forest,
Nature and Environment Aceh, Indonesia
Kudak va Jomea, Tajikstan
Ujamaa Community Resource Team, Tanzania
Bioneers/Collective Heritage Institute, US
Nsombou Abalghe-Dzal Association (NADA), Gabon
Fundación para la Conservacióny el Desarrollo Sostenible (FCDS), Columbia
Engineering College,Pokhara University, Nepal
African CSOs Biodiversity Alliance（ACBA）
African Wildlife Foundation
缤纷自然文化传媒有限公司Colorful Nature Films
西子江生态保育中心 Xizijiang Conservation Center Forest Peoples Programme Community Leaders Network
If you wish to learn more about this Exhibit, scan the QR Code below（ or click this link）to view the Youtube playlist;
scan the QR Code below (or click this link) to download the brochure.
We also invite you to continue sharing your artwork with us on twitter and Facebook using #SharedWisdom, and @ Shan Shui Conservation Center. We will continue to collect more artworks and looking forward to having more collaborators.