11 March 2023

Importance of indigenous knowledge being passed on through generations to protect the environment is driven home as event closes

Doha, Qatar, 11 March 2023: A Bedouin environmental activist from Qatar called on every person across the nation to plant one tree as their contribution to protecting their environment, as Qatar Foundation’s Earthna Summit 2023 drew to a close.

Speaking on the final day of the inaugural Summit in Msheireb Downtown Doha – which explored new sustainability pathways for hot and arid climates, and how indigenous knowledge can play its part in tackling the environmental challenges of the present and future – Ali Taleb Al Henzab spoke of how lessons and practices taught by his forefathers instilled in him the importance of “taking only what we need from our environment without harming it”.

In a session exploring indigenous approaches to sustainability, he told delegates: “My grandfather had a mobile school which shaped our knowledge of trees, plants, seasons, and this is why I have knowledge of how to preserve the environment that I now look to pass to my children.

“As Bedouins, we move from place to place and take only what we need so we do not drain the environment. We have learned not to cut down trees, and how to use the water we gather when it rains. We did not have any waste because we carried out what is now called recycling. It is about making the best of each and every component of our environment, because if we do not have an environment, we do not have anything.”

Al Henzab – who runs an agricultural initiative and preserves endangered Qatari plants, while also distributing small trees to schools in Qatar – described Islamic values as “a great protection for the environment”, and said: “We should go back to our forefathers for at least half-an-hour a day and they should be part and parcel of our schools, because they can give us guidance on how to protect the environment.

“All of us are fallible. All of us make mistakes. But what is important is that we incubate ideas and support young people who have initiative, as well as teaching them to plant trees and giving them the opportunity to do this so that it grows in their hearts. We want children to take the initiative in the realm of sustainability.

“I hope that each of us in Qatar will plant one tree, or preserve one. This is the job of every person living in this country. And if you cannot plant, at least deliver the message about the need to plant, and do not cut trees down. Our forefathers were able to develop environmental solutions despite the fact they had limited resources, and this should expand generation after generation, for generations to come, so that our legacy can be a sustainable one.”