Charles urges the world to listen to the ‘wisdom’ of indigenous people

Prince Charles performs the hongi, a traditional Maori greeting, during a visit to New Zealand last year. Credit: PA Archive

The Prince of Wales has described humanity’s exploitation of nature as “insanity” and called on nations to listen to the “wisdom of indigenous communities”.

Interviewed by novelist Margaret Atwood during her guest editorship of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Charles said such people really understand the threat the planet faces.

The heir to the throne said some people thought he was “completely dotty” to speak out about environmental issues as a young man in 1970.

Charles 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 indigenous communities and First Nations people all around the world.

Charles and Camilla during a trip to Canada Credit: Chris Jackson/PA

“We can learn so much from them as to how we can re-right 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.

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

“And if we go on exploiting where we are, whatever we do to nature, however much pollution, we do to ourselves – it is insanity.”

Charles also spoke about his lifelong campaigning in support of the natural world.

In 1970 he gave a landmark speech on the environment when he warned about the problems of plastic waste, chemicals discharged into rivers and air pollution caused by factories, cars and planes.

Atwood asked if he faced any “pushback” for his views, and Charles replied: “A great deal, if I may say so, but nobody really wanted to know at the time, they thought I was completely dotty.”