Krystyna Swiderska

Principal researcher and team leader (biocultural heritage), IIED's Natural Resources research group

Krystyna Swiderska's picture
Telephone: +44 (0)20 3463 7399
Languages: English, French and Spanish

Krystyna Swiderska leads IIED’s work on traditional knowledge and biocultural heritage.

Her work focuses on:

  • Protecting the interlinked biodiversity and cultural heritage - or biocultural heritage - and related rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities – including by supporting the establishment of self-governed biocultural territories, enhancing community voices in policymaking, and supporting community to community learning exchanges and networks, and
  • Understanding the role of Indigenous and traditional food systems, agrobiodiversity and agroecology in food and nutrition security, biodiversity conservation and climate resilience, and promoting more supportive policies and institutions.

Krystyna is working with Asociacion ANDES (Peru) and the International Network of Mountain Indigenous Peoples (INMIP) to establish a global network of biocultural territories to support the 30x30 Target and protect co-evolving landscape-based gene banks in centres of domestication and diversity for climate resilience.

She has worked closely with the Quechua Potato Park biocultural territory in Peru and is working to scale out and adapt this successful model in Peru, Kenya, China and India.

Krystyna is a member of the FAO Global Hub on Indigenous Peoples’ Food and Knowledge Systems, IUCN’s Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy, the UN Mountain Partnership and  the International Society for Ethnobiology. She is also a member of IIED’s internal race and racism working group and leads IIED’s taskforce on decolonisation.


Biocultural heritage, including protection and revitalisation of traditional knowledge, values and worldviews, agrobiodiversity and indigenous food systems; biocultural heritage territories, indigenous enterprises, biocultural protocols and community-led ecosystem-based adaptation; decolonising methodologies; mountain communities and climate change.

Before IIED


  • MSc, environmental technology, Imperial College London
  • PhD, biocultural heritage, Coventry University Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (ongoing)

Current work

Establishing a biocultural territory for Kaya forest landscape conservation in Rabai, coastal Kenya; scaling out the Potato Park to protect land rights in Peru’s copperbelt; supporting INMIP horizontal learning exchanges, global network of biocultural territories and development of a direct funding mechanism; exploring nature related values of Indigenous Peoples and local communities; and exploring non-economic loss and damage relating to biocultural heritage.

Video playlist