IPON Research Network

The Program

IPON team


IPON brings together researchers, Indigenous communities, and decision-makers who have been collaborating on environmental change related projects in the global south and north for over a decade. Through this work, we have created networks of trust and reciprocity, strengthened our capacity to conduct applied research, and developed a baseline understanding of the key risks posed by climate change and health emergencies to Indigenous communities.

During the pandemic we started to collaborate, reflecting the urgent need to pool resources, understanding, and best practices to inform efforts to reduce pandemic risk and build resilience. With support from UKRIs GCRF-Newton program, FAO, and the WHO, we established the COVID-Observatories research program. A key part of this collaboration involved harnessing local research capacity and Indigenous knowledge to develop a real-time understanding of the lived experiences of COVID-19 and networking communities to decision-making processes at regional to global scales. In March 2023, in our first in-person meeting hosted at Keystone Foundation in Kotagiri, India, we collectively decided to transform our network into IPON to respond to global emergencies.

Many of us have been working together since 2010 in the Indigenous Health Adaptation to Climate Change Program.

A couple of woman planning on a board


Our vision is to transform and rethink how we understand the food-climate-health nexus from the bottom-up, building on multiple ways of knowing embodied in Indigenous knowledge and science, including Indigenous cosmogonies, and in ways that strengthen community resilience to multiple stresses and support actions that benefit Indigenous peoples. We want to promote a people-focused approach that encourages learning from each other and learning together.

A couple of woman planning on a board


To achieve this vision, we will develop, operationalize, and maintain Indigenous Observatories that are composed of community leaders, elders, youth, decision-makers, and researchers among Indigenous communities in Argentina, Bolivia, Canada, Fiji, Ghana, India, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Namibia, Peru, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Uganda, USA, and the UK. The Observatory architecture provides the basis for achieving Research, Training, and Impact goals, the establishment of which will be guided by Indigenous conceptualizations and One Health approaches.

Research Design

As a network we recognize


The health and well-being of Indigenous Peoples globally face profound threats from climate change, biodiversity loss, and land degradation, compounding high levels of poverty, disease pandemics e.g., the legacy of COVID-19, discrimination, land dispossession, and colonization.


It is primarily through the nexus with Indigenous food systems that these stresses converge and interact to affect health and well-being.


Indigenous knowledge and practices underpin resilience across the food-climate-health nexus but are being overlooked and undermined by government policy. and


New ways of working with Indigenous communities and informing decision-making are needed if we are to make sense of and address these interlinked stresses.

Observatory Approach

Woman talking to a group

IPON is structured around a network-based model that is designed to leverage and strengthen capacity in partner regions, minimize travel, enhance shared learning, and ground the research within the specific cultures and contexts of Indigenous communities. Within each region we have established Indigenous Observatories, composed of:

  • Community observers including local leaders, elders, and youth in the study regions, who act as key informants and diary keepers.
  • Policy Observers including representatives of local and regional health authorities, indigenous organizations, and health practitioners, who will document govermeent responses to climate change and emergencies with respect to Indigenous Peoples.
  • And In-country Researchers who are CO-Is and collaborators on IPON and coordinate and manage the Observatories each region.