• Indigenous leaders from around the world answered the question, ‘What does the world need to hear right now?’.
  • Their advice ranged from following the law of the land - not the law of man - to providing universal education.
  • The World Economic Forum says the world is at a crucial stage where it needs to ensure that the transition to clean energy is irreversible.

In this era of COVID-19 and climate challenges, ‘indigenous wisdom keepers’ from around the world have been consulted on the best way forward for the planet.

The so-called ‘Earth Overshoot Day’ fell on 29 July last year, according to the NGO Global Footprint Network – the day when all humans have collectively used up more natural resources than Mother Nature can reproduce in a year.

If every citizen lived like those in the US, says the NGO, humans would require the resources of five planet Earths.

Qatar, Luxembourg and the UAE are bigger offenders than the US, but their size means less impact.
Qatar, Luxembourg and the UAE are bigger offenders than the US, but their size means less impact.
Image: Statista

So, what does the world need to hear right now?

This was the question posed to indigenous leaders for a Rooted Messages interview. Here, 10 of them impart their pearls of wisdom.

Indigenous leaders share their pearls of wisdom about the world today.
Indigenous leaders share their pearls of wisdom about the world today.
Image: Statista

1. Don Sebastian of the Inca People in Peru

“We have to restore our harmony with Mother Earth in order to enjoy a harmonious and full life. If we don’t do this, we will continue to live with hatred, jealousy and sickness. But before that, Mother Earth has to forgive us for having hurt her so much.”

2. Vandria Borari of the Borari people in Brazil

“When Mother Earth gets sick, we get sick. The river, the forest and the animals - they complete our lives, and they are the reason of our existence.”

3. Carlos Barrios of the Mayan people in Guatemala

“Mother Earth and human beings have the same purpose - to grow, to go towards an evolutionary moment. The most important thing in this life is your own self. If you take responsibility and you create the development of your own self, you’re going to help not just you, you’re going to help humanity.”

4. Anne Poelina of the Aboriginal people in Australia

“Indigenous wisdom right across the planet is grounded in what we call ‘law of the land’ not ‘law of man’, and what we are saying as wisdom keepers is that unless we are factoring in indigenous wisdom, indigenous knowledge, indigenous science, indigenous law, we will not be able to right-size the planet post-COVID.”

5. Fadimata Walet Alassane of the Tuareg people in Burkina Faso

“The current distress is caused by the abandonment of cultural and moral values. If you do bad things that your ancestors never did, you will face the consequences. People must exchange and develop mutual aid.”

6. Ayan Ayangat of the Chonos people in Mongolia

“It is unveiling the true faces, not only of people but also countries and nations. We need to love and respect each other. Diseases and suffering don’t appear out of nowhere.”

7. Adam Ole Mwarabu of the Maasai people in Tanzania

“I came across a dream about a pandemic and in the dream, it was all about our co-existence, living in harmony with nature.”

8. Te Ngaehe Wanikau of the Māori people in New Zealand

“To go back to what we were prior to COVID-19 would only be a testimony to our collective stupidity. We have opportunities now and other pathways … that hold this world the way it should be, and pathways that sustain and treasure and nurture. Be the generation that said, ‘No. Enough’. We’re not lost anymore. We’re finding our way home.”

9. Kazumi Ohishi of the Kaminchu people in Okinawa, Japan

“The shape and form of human beings as we know it, will change. There will also be polar shifts and changes in the revolution and the rotation of Earth, which means that human beings must find a way to cope and adapt to the abnormal mutations that are happening.”

10. Chief Phil Lane Jr of the Ihanktonwan and Chickasaw Nations in North America and Canada

“As long as 50% of the world's population is being oppressed and not allowed to express their full potentiality there will not be solutions, not only to the climate issue but to world peace. If we want to change this whole context, we have to provide universal education to all members of our human family.”

As indigenous people try to guide mankind in the right direction, will we take heed of their wisdom and take steps to save ourselves and the planet? Discover more words from the wisdom keepers in the full interview below.

As the World Economic Forum points out in a new report, the world is at a crucial stage where it needs to ensure that the transition to clean energy is irreversible and rooted in economic, political and social practices. Only 13 out of 115 countries have made steady gains in this area in the past decade, so the Forum is calling for a renewed focus to meet climate goals.

What’s the World Economic Forum doing about climate change?

Climate change poses an urgent threat demanding decisive action. Communities around the world are already experiencing increased climate impacts, from droughts to floods to rising seas. The World Economic Forum's Global Risks Report continues to rank these environmental threats at the top of the list.

To limit global temperature rise to well below 2°C and as close as possible to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, it is essential that businesses, policy-makers, and civil society advance comprehensive near- and long-term climate actions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The World Economic Forum's Climate Initiative supports the scaling and acceleration of global climate action through public and private-sector collaboration. The Initiative works across several workstreams to develop and implement inclusive and ambitious solutions.

This includes the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, a global network of business leaders from various industries developing cost-effective solutions to transitioning to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy. CEOs use their position and influence with policy-makers and corporate partners to accelerate the transition and realize the economic benefits of delivering a safer climate.

Contact us to get involved.