For decades now, indigenous and other marginalised communities around the world have called for ‘nothing about us without us’ when developing policy and practice. This blog explores how we might go beyond this and move from merely consulting and including indigenous communities, to creating space for indigenous-led solutions. As the Social Value International community prepares for a month of discussion on how we might move beyond ESG, we can look to indigenous economic developments around the world for a wealth of opportunities for innovation.
‘Nothing about us without us’ is an excellent mantra; it is widely applicable, gets the point across succinctly, and it has a nice memorable ring to it. But surely by this point we can do better. Surely simply including communities in their future-making should be considered a bare minimum expectation, and we should be aiming much higher for best practice. Best practice should look like community-led solutions, and this requires much more than just consultation. It requires actively creating space for alternative perspectives, it requires building genuine relationships and understanding, and it requires funders to offer a level of acceptance and trust in the process of innovation. Ultimately, it requires getting out of the way of communities who know best how to solve their own problems.
The Social Value International community are celebrating the month of March as a time to focus on ESG (environmental, social, and governance) investing, and specifically to generate ideas for how to move beyond ESG, ways to think bigger. Our contribution as the local Aotearoa member network is to draw attention to some innovative indigenous-led solutions.
Here in NZ there are a range of inspiring Māori-led economic innovations we could learn from, such as:
There are countless others, and I’m sure there is a wealth of international literature and innovation to draw upon.
The Social Value International community is deeply grounded in our principles, the first and foremost of which is to engage stakeholders. This month as we explore how to move beyond ESG, we should consider how this connects to engaging stakeholders, and what this process really should and could look like. Indigenous economic innovation offers a wealth of opportunity to drive beyond traditional frameworks of ESG, but to meaningfully engage with this we must move beyond the idea of simply consulting with indigenous communities. We must make proactive and trusting efforts to listen to the solutions they are already leading, and to support community-led innovation and development.