In a recent interview given by Lisbet Rausing to Rhett A. Buttler, the co-founder of the Arcadia fund speaks about the importance of preserving endangered knowledge and nature and promoting open access. The Q&A was originally published by Mongabay on 8 February 2021 and reproduced by Arcadia.

In the interview, Lisbet Rausing commends the work done by Arcadia founded projects including The Endangered Material Knowledge Programme (EMKP) in preserving endangered culture and nature. In explaining Arcadia’s aim with cultural preservation she says that “Arcadia helps people remember their cultures and protect their natural surroundings, to give coming generations a base for a vibrant, sustainable and just future. […] Our Endangered Material Knowledge Programme documents traditional handicraft skills, many threatened by globalization. Language and the traditions around making and mending things are fundamental to culture, but this knowledge is easily lost when it only exists in the memories of elders.”

The Arcadia fund considers access to information one of the pillars of its philanthropic strategy. Because of this, the outputs of Arcadia’s programmes are open access “so that others can draw from and build on this work”. Lisbet Rausing underlines the role that open access plays in the availability of information as a means to fight ‘fake news’ and knowledge barriers. The historian and philanthropist shows her concern about how misinformation has spread in the last decades and considers open access a means to address knowledge justice and make scholarly knowledge accessible to everyone “We have seen in the last year when COVID-19 researchers across the world dismantled knowledge barriers, how much more effective and speedy innovation is if we share data and cooperate with one another,” says Rausing.

Arcadia’s different programmes ensure the preservation and protection of the world cultural and natural heritage, but there is still a long way to go. The Arcadia co-founder ends the interview with an optimistic message: “[…] You are right to be worried. But don’t give up hope. We can work together to turn the tide. […] Whatever your passion is, build on it and fight for it”.

Interview given by Lisbet Rausing to Buttler and published originally by Mongabay.

Banner image: Julius Arerierian learning to make rope with Urhobo craftswoman Ememerhaghwara Eyakenaoma and others. Photo: Akpobome Diffre-Odiete