The idea that forms the basis of planetary health, that the human and natural world are deeply intertwined, is not a new one. In fact, it is rooted in ancestral and Indigenous knowledge — knowledge that is often ignored and discredited for being “unscientific” and therefore invalid. It thus becomes important that our study of planetary health gives credit where credit is due, and listens to ancestral, Indigenous, and local perspectives. This is why radical listening is the most important aspect of HIH’s work.
We believe that communities know the root causes and therefore the solutions to their social and environmental problems. We listen to their ideas and implement them, so communities have ownership of the entire process, from defining to solving the problem. This is our approach and the foundation for ASRI’s programs. This method allows us to see the intersection of health, environmental, and economic issues from the community perspective and address them effectively to protect earth’s critical ecosystems. More than a style of communication, radical listening is a unique and inclusive approach to community engagement that generates win-win solutions and trusts community members to be the best solvers of their problems. It means facilitating community consensus through an iterative process that continuously improves programs over time. Thus, we challenge the longstanding history of paternalism and exclusion of local perspectives in Western nonprofit/nongovernmental environmental work in non-Western settings.
Through radical listening, communities will own, build, and sustain the solutions they design. If scaled, these solutions can produce amazing results in human development, conservation, or CSR initiatives. In fact, we’ve seen great interest in our radical listening methodology around the world – recognized more and more for its application across public and private sectors and we are teaching clients all over the world how to practice radical listening with communities.
In this module, we will focus on the essential principles of radical listening, how it can be carried out to induce desired behavioural change in a way that is equitable and long-lasting. Radical listening will also be closely linked to democratic organising from the ground-up which is highly relevant today for addressing various systemic issues such as political underrepresentation, consumerist throwaway culture and ecological collapse. By uplifting, listening to, and validating local perspectives and traditional knowledge, we are not only able to co-create more effective and context-appropriate solutions, but we also reject existing oppressive power hierarchies and restore power to those from whom it has been stolen.
Recognize the importance of grassroots initiatives and the need for participation and ownership of most-affected groups.
Planetary Health Principle: Organizing and Movement Building (The Lancet)
We believe that communities know the root causes and therefore the solutions to their social and environmental problems. Participants learn how Radical Listening can have a transformative impact on international development programs, and conservation initiatives.
Planetary Health Principles (Canmore Declaration):
Values and Purpose
Traditional knowledge and sciences are incredibly valuable but are also often dismissed. Adopting a planetary health perspective requires that we not only respect local communities’ traditional knowledge and sciences, but also actively engage and adopt this knowledge when problem-solving and working with these communities.