Values Across Cultures

The IPBES Diverse Values and Valuation of Nature paper is an extensive work and a highly recommended resource on types of values across culture.

Additionally, we looked at intrinsic value and well-being beliefs across cultures.

This section is an evolving work and, as always, we welcome your contribution.

Intrinsic Value & Well-being Beliefs Across Cultures

Ohenton Kariwatehkwen

Ohenton Kariwatehkwen, known as the Thanksgiving Address, is a profound ceremonial expression from the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) people, encapsulating gratitude towards every aspect of the natural world. It serves as a reminder of humanity's deep interconnectedness with nature, acknowledging the sun, moon, water, earth, plants, and animals for their contributions to life's sustenance. This address is both an opening and closing to gatherings, emphasizing the importance of thankfulness and recognition of the natural balance and harmony that sustains life, reflecting a deep respect for and unity with the environment.


Whakapapa is a foundational concept in Māori culture, embodying the genealogical connections between all entities — human, environmental, and spiritual. It asserts that individuals are directly linked to their ancestors, the land, and the cosmos, forming a continuous chain of being and belonging that transcends time. Whakapapa is not just a lineage recitation; it's a way of understanding the world, emphasizing the interconnectedness and mutual responsibilities between people and the natural world. This concept underscores the intrinsic value of all life forms and their integral roles within the ecosystem.


Ubuntu is a Nguni Bantu term often translated as "I am because we are," reflecting a philosophy of mutual respect, community life, and interconnectedness among people and between individuals and the natural world. Originating from Southern African cultures, Ubuntu emphasizes compassion, humanity, and the communal bond that defines human experience. It teaches that our well-being is deeply tied to the well-being of others, including the natural environment, advocating for a life of harmony, respect, and empathy towards all beings.

Buen Vivir

Buen Vivir, or "good living," is a concept and practice emerging from Indigenous Andean cultures, particularly the Quechua and Aymara peoples, which proposes a way of life that is in harmony with nature. It contrasts with Western notions of development, focusing instead on communal well-being, environmental stewardship, and the balance between human needs and the preservation of the planet. Buen Vivir embodies the idea that true prosperity is found in living well within one's community and ecosystem rather than in material accumulation, advocating for a holistic approach to development that respects Pachamama (Mother Earth).


Djalkiri is a Yolŋu term from Northeast Arnhem Land in Australia, denoting the foundational principles and deep spiritual connections between the Yolŋu people and their Country. It represents the ancestral footprints and laws laid down by the creators, guiding the living in their relationship with the land, sea, and spiritual entities. Djalkiri emphasizes the responsibility to care for and maintain the balance of the environment, highlighting the reciprocal relationship between people and Country, where both are custodians and beneficiaries of the land's spiritual and physical abundance.


Ngurra refers to the concept of home and country among some Aboriginal Australian groups, particularly in the Western Desert regions. It embodies the deep connection to land, encompassing not just the physical place but also the cultural, spiritual, and emotional ties that bind people to their ancestral territories. Ngurra is a place of belonging, identity, and responsibility, where the land and its people are inseparable, and caring for the country is an integral part of life. This concept illustrates the complex relationships and obligations to the land, highlighting the intrinsic value and mutual care between the land and its Indigenous custodians.


Satoyama is a Japanese term that represents a traditional rural landscape where the balance between humans and nature is maintained through centuries-old practices that enhance biodiversity and ecosystem services. Satoyama landscapes include mixed forests, rice paddies, irrigation ponds, and grasslands, which are managed in ways that create a mosaic of habitats supporting a wide variety of species. This concept emphasizes the importance of human stewardship of the natural environment in a manner that sustains and enriches biodiversity, demonstrating the symbiotic relationship between people and nature.


In Inuit philosophy, Sila is a concept that encompasses the weather, balance, and consciousness, reflecting the interconnectedness of humans, animals, and the environment in the Arctic. It represents the breath of life and the force that connects all beings, emphasizing the respect and understanding required to live in harmony with the vast, dynamic, and often harsh natural landscapes of the Arctic. Sila teaches the importance of recognizing the sentience and agency of the natural world, underscoring the deep relationship between the Inuit people and their environment.

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