Biocultural preservation, innovation and benefit-sharing for climate change resilience

IIED 2010, /
Published: 04 July 2019
Last edited: 01 October 2020
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In this project, ANDES (Asociación para la Naturaleza y el Desarrollo Sostenible) provided support to communities in the mountainous Cusco Region of Peru for the establishment and management of a Potato Park, where communities can engage with, preserve and benefit from biocultural heritage. Communities active in the Association of Communities of the Potato Park are supported to preserve native and locally-adapted crop species and to capitalise on this through agrobiodiversity-based microenterprises. Communities’ resilience to climate change is bolstered ecologically by maintaining availability of locally-adapted food crops, culturally by reviving traditional knowledge, and socially by providing ecosystem-based livelihood generating activities. This solution is published as part of the project Ecosystem-based Adaptation; strengthening the evidence and informing policy, coordinated by IIED, IUCN and UN Environment WCMC.


South America
Scale of implementation
Genetic diversity
Indigenous people
Local actors
Standards/ certification
Sustainable livelihoods
Traditional knowledge
Infrastructure development
Physical resource extraction
Changes in socio-cultural context
Sustainable development goals
SDG 2 – Zero hunger
SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation
SDG 13 – Climate action
Aichi targets
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 13: Safeguarding genetic diversity
Target 16: Access to and sharing benefits from genetic resources
Target 18: Traditional knowledge
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge
Sendai Framework
Target 2: Reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030


Cusco Región, Peru


Climate change has led to erratic weather, increased temperatures, and late and unpredictable rains. In the Potato Park region, this has reduced both the number of potato varieties that can be grown, and the yield of those that are grown. Pests and diseases have increased. This is exerting pressure on communities already experiencing food insecurity, poor agricultural extension, and limited access to training and financial services. More broadly, extraction and industrial agriculture in the region is placing its biodiversity and culture under strain. 


Five indigenous Quechua communities are currently benefiting from this solution. Women and poorest community members benefit especially from activities and profit-sharing associated with the collective trademarking scheme.

How do the building blocks interact?

BBI comprises the Potato Park, which is a territory for safeguarding biocultural heritage. It creates a space for the preservation of genetic diversity and resilient crop varieties; this helps buffer communities against the risk of crop failure from drought, frost and disease. The Potato Park acts as a space where BBII, informal collective trademarking for biocultural innovation such as food and beauty products, can flourish. In turn, BBII acts as a pillar of support for BBI, providing incentive and impetus for sustained protection of local agrobiodiversity. A place-based trademark centering on the Potato Park provides a central point around which communities can gather, leading to social cohesion which also helps to build resilience to the broader challenges posed by climate change. Thus the two building blocks for this solution are mutually reinforcing, sustaining the ecological and social benefits that the full solution offers. 


The Potato Park maintains crop evolution in farmers’ fields and landscapes providing a space for the generation of new potentially useful genetic variation, which strengthens the capacity of the local agricultural and food systems to adapt to change. Maintaining high genetic diversity also buffers crop production from the effects of greater climate variability and extreme events reducing communities’ vulnerability to crop failure. Additionally, the participatory action research approach used in managing the park as Climate Change Living Lab has increased both local capacity for conducting research and confidence in traditional knowledge, and has fortified links between traditional knowledge holders and scientists and research institutions in co-producing responses to challenges associated to food, nutrition and productivity. 

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Xiaoting Hou Jones IIED