Indigenous Communities, the Bioeconomy and Natural Resource Development

17 August 2012 | Article

 In the summer issue of the Journal of Enterprising Communities (Volume 6, Issue 3) a set of papers presented at the CEESP Sharing Power Conference in Whakatane, New Zealand has been published. The special issue includes three cases from a Canadian research project along with other papers presented at the conference and considers Indigenous perspectives on product and service development for the bioeconomy within the broader context of Indigenous enterprises for natural resource development.

The purpose of the special issue was to expand the discussion of Indigenous participation in the economic development of biological resources. In general the issues presented reflect the larger perspective that considers the perspective of Indigenous actors in developing biological products and natural resource enterprises. The impetus for the research behind the special issue came from the recognition that Indigenous communities in northern and rural regions of Canada face significant economic challenges. As noted in cases related to Indigenous enterprises and entrepreneurship from other countries and work documenting the wider socio-economic and political position of many Indigenous peoples, this appears to be common across many regions of the world.

One thing that emerges from the papers of the special issue is that some Indigenous communities in diverse contexts are, with great care and deliberation, assessing the potential of product and service innovation for the bioeconomy and natural resource development to provide benefits for their communities. Rather than a rejection of innovation and development what emerges is the need for institutions, such as community-based enterprises, and in some cases partnerships, that provide the means for communities to deliberate about the risks and benefits and make decisions regarding future directions consistent with their values.

Iain J. Davidson-Hunt and Katherine L. Turner (Editors)