More than 1300 delegates representing hundreds of first nation people travelled from 50 countries to attend the inaugural World Indigenous Network Conference in Darwin this week.

Aimed at indigenous people the six-day event saw a vigorous exchange of knowledge about managing natural environments the traditional and modern way.

WIN 2013 drew some of the most highly respected first nation people, advocates and experts. Professor James Anaya, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was the keynote speaker. Melissa George, a Wulgurukaba woman and WIN National Advisory Group co-chair, and actor/activist Chaske Spencer of the Lakota Sioux Tribe were the Masters of Ceremony and hosts of the conference.

There were more than 70 concurrent workshops, conference sessions and keynote presentations bringing together valuable lessons learned from Canada, Nepal, the Amazon, Sweden, Ecuador, the Philippines, New Zealand, Timor, and Hawaii among others.

The opening ceremony was a spectacular cultural event showcasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander song and dance traditions. The Bangarra Dance Theatre, Australia’s leading indigenous performing arts group known for their world-class performances, led the entertainment fare which also featured the Baiwa Dance Company, Doonoch Dance Company and Gary Lang.

“The world has come to Darwin for this fantastic opportunity to recognise and showcase indigenous knowledge in land and sea protection,” said Malu Barrios, general manager of the Darwin Convention Centre.

“We heard so many inspirational stories of achievement and look forward to a successful linking of indigenous expertise and modern technology to improve the way we manage our environment globally,” she adds.