By Pooran Desai OBE (Founder) and Niamh James (Researcher)

Indigenous knowledge provides key insights to tackle climate change. Indigenous peoples make up just six per cent of the world population, yet they maintain and protect 80 percent of the planet’s biodiversity which is vital for maintaining a stable climate. Having a close relationship to the natural world is a core principle of indigenous identity and wisdom.


Indigenous wisdom sees the non-human world – including what we often consider inanimate such as rocks and water – as alive and full of spirit. Humans are perceived as part of nature not separate from it, where life is lived through interconnected relationships. Understanding the interconnections of life and our place in nature is vital if we are to bring our Earth’s systems back into health. In fact, latest thinking on the evolution of life on earth, aligns with this indigenous view of the world, with life being a constant interplay between different physical, chemical, biological and geological processes. The indigenous world view is therefore increasingly being recognised as based on very close, objective observation of the natural world.


Robin Wall Kimmerer, an indigenous American woman, outlines the basic principles of the ‘Honourable Harvest’. When taking from natural surroundings, you must not cause damage or take more than you need. You must also reciprocate – give back – the Earth’s gifts. This ensures that ecosystems can regenerate and provide in abundance.


Indigenous peoples’ deep knowledge of their localities allows an understanding of how to adapt to environmental changes. For example, California wildfires are becoming more frequent each year due to climate change, but also poor forest management. In recent years, the state government has worked with Indigenous communities to use traditional practices to manage the forest and mitigate large wildfires. Indigenous wisdom is therefore an important contribution to climate change policy and action.


Our response to the climate crisis can incorporate insights from Indigenous Wisdom. We must adapt to the foreseeable climate changes that are inevitable whilst regenerating the Earth’s resources and giving back to replenish all that we’ve taken. We believe OnePlanet technology can help.  It uses network database technology which allows users to link up relevant Outcomes, Actions and Indicators together. Relationships become visually apparent and our interconnectedness to the rest of the planet is easier to understand, enabling us to make better decisions.

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