9It is uncontroversial that there is a wealth of valuable knowledge held by Indigenous people about natural resource management. As noted in the 1987 report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, Our Common Future:
[Indigenous] communities are the repositories of vast accumulations of traditional knowledge and experience that links humanity with its ancient origins. Their disappearance is a loss for the larger society, which could learn a great deal from their traditional skills in sustainably managing very complex ecological systems. 1More specific to water management, and in light of the case studies in this book, Australia’s National Water Commission acknowledged in 2012 that:
Indigenous Australians have managed their lands and waters sustainably for thousands of generations. Through their spiritual, cultural and customary connections to the landscape, they have acquired a deep knowledge and understanding of Australia’s water systems. 2Despite the devastating effects of colonisation, many Indigenous Australians still hold valuable knowledge of ecosystem management, 3 as do Indigenous people in other colonised countries. It is therefore vitally important that Indigenous people are able to maintain and use their knowledge by participating in water management decision-making processes.