Prince Charles urges the world to heed the wisdom of indigenous people on the environment

·3 min read
Prince Charles was interviewed on the Today programme - BEN BIRCHALL/AFP
Prince Charles was interviewed on the Today programme - BEN BIRCHALL/AFP

The Prince of Wales has urged the world to listen to the wisdom of indigenous people on the environment, revealing that he has been talking to Canadian First Nation leaders for a year.

He suggested that they intrinsically understood the threat facing the planet, noting that they had always believed in the “seventh unborn generation” principle, an ancient philosophy that considers the impact of decisions made about the land on future generations.

The Prince was interviewed by Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood, guest editor of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, who wrote to ask if he would take part due to their shared passion for sustainable living.

Their conversation, which spanned the Prince’s commitment to sustainability and organic farming, was recorded by Zoom last week.

The Prince said: “I’ve been talking to quite a lot of the First Nations leaders in Canada over the last year and it’s high time we paid more attention to their wisdom and the wisdom of indiginous communities and First Nations people around the world.

“We can learn so much from them as to how we can rewrite the balance and start to rediscover a sense of the sacred because nature - Mother Nature - is our sustainer, we are part of nature, we are nature.

Prince Charles said we must take advantage of increased engagement on the environment - Victoria Jones/PA
Prince Charles said we must take advantage of increased engagement on the environment - Victoria Jones/PA

“We are a microcosm of the macrocosm but we have forgotten that, or somehow been brainwashed into thinking we have nothing to do with nature and nature can just be exploited.

“And if we go on exploiting the way we are, whatever we do to nature, however much we pollute her, we do it to ourselves. It is insanity. 

“So, my great ambition is how to rewrite the balance.”

The Prince has been speaking with Perry Bellegarde, leader of the Assembly of First Nations, as well as various indigenous knowledge keepers, known as Elders. 

He has included visits to indiginous and aboriginal communities on several recent tours and is keen to ensure their voices are heard, sources revealed.

The Prince said that after decades of work on the environment, he had suddenly noticed a “complete change in approach”  in the last 18 months.

“ I think people are realising the crisis, the real emergency we now face,” he said.

“I’ve always worried that, being human, we would leave things to the last moment… you end up with a catastrophe because of hitting a brick wall.”

The Prince said that more and more people were now engaging with his Sustainable Markets Initiative, launched in Davos in January, and that there were growing numbers of investors.

He admitted that despite “endless well meaning commitments and targets,” historically, there had been too few investment opportunities.

“It's the private sector which has in many ways contributed to the problem over the past century, that is now a necessary and critical part of the solution,” he added.

“And suddenly we are finding engagement on a scale I would never really have believed.

“At last there is now more attention being paid so we have to grab the opportunity to make the transition that’s so desperately needed.”

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