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Operationalising Indigenous data sovereignty in environmental research and governance

Bhiamie Williamson, Sam Provost, Cassandra Price

2023 Australia

In the face of climate change, Western environmental research and governance processes and institutions are increasingly seeking to learn from and harness Indigenous peoples knowledges, perspectives, and practices of land and water management. There are both opportunities and risks for Indigenous groups seeking to exploit these opportunities to (re)connect with their homelands and reinvigorate dormant cultural practices. This article considers these issues by highlighting the barriers, risks, and opportunities, across three case environmental study sites – cultural burning, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping, and marine science. We offer Indigenous data sovereignty and Indigenous data governance as both guiding principles and a practical blueprint that can make safe these intercultural environmental collaborations by mitigating against perverse or unintended consequences of Indigenous knowledge theft, as well as maximising opportunities to foster sustainable self-determination and self-governance.

Indigenous data sovereignty, environmental research, environmental policy, decolonised research methods