Indigenous Control, Sustainable Development and the Quadruple Bottom Line: Case Examples of Wild Rice and Non-timber Forest Products

By:
Dr William Low
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This paper examines the challenges facing Indigenous people sustainably developing economically and culturally significant resources through case examples of wild rice and non-timber forest products. The framework for understanding the contribution that these commodities make to indigenous communities is the Quadruple Bottom Line.

Post-contact and post-colonial commodification and contestation over these resources, or more importantly the land on which they grow, attempt to denude the resources of sacred and symbolic value. Rationale land use in a market society aims to maximise economic value i. Displacement of traditional commodities in order to produce goods for Western markets is justified by the latter’s higher economic value. Reliance on the financial bottom line approach to decision-making creates a distortion in the market which is biased against value conceived of a environmental, social or cultural.

Food items such as wild rice, maize, cloudberries, etc. retain cultural and symbolic significance to Indigenous people that, in principle, rivals the economic potential of these resources. Cizek (1993) has argued that safe-guarding wild rice as a ceremonial and economic resource will form part of an Ojibway strategy for long-term cultural survival. The same holds true for a range of non-timber forest products in Papua New Guinea covered by an Integrated Conservation and Development Project. The imperative to control cultural resources is integral to the idea of sustainable development in Indigenous communities.

The survival of these cultural resource and the lands in which they are found rely on a mix of three things: legal right to control them; relatively weak economic competition for control by non-Indigenous people; or, development of a viable economic base to produce for both the market and traditional use. The control of resources and development of the value-added components related to traditional commodities are critical steps in an indigenously controlled development process (Bebbington, 1993).


Keywords: Cultural Sustainability, Indigenous People, Quadruple Bottom Line, Non-timber Forest Products
Stream: Cultural Sustainability
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr William Low

Senior Lecturer, Department of Management and Employment Relations, University of Auckland
New Zealand

Will Low holds a BA and MA from UBC and a PhD from LSE. Trained as an economist, he is currently Senior Lecturer teaching Business in Society and Sustainable Business at the University of Auckland Business School. He has taught in Canada, the USA, the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Will also does consulting work for private companies and NGOs, including The Warehouse Group, Oxfam NZ and UNICEF.
His recent research, with co-presenter Eileen Davenport, appears in International Marketing Review, Sustainable Development and Journal of Strategic Marketing.

Ref: S06P0294