There are few rooms in the world in which Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim wouldn’t make a statement. She often comes wrapped in the vibrant fabrics of her home country Chad, wrists and ears adorned with intricately beaded jewelry representative of her Mbororo pastoralist community. And when she speaks, she weaves lessons learned from her ancestors about the patterns of nature with urgent calls for world leaders to not only recognize but also institutionalize the land rights and knowledge of Indigenous peoples, in order to achieve a more sustainable future.
“My grandma, she examined the insects, the bird displacement, the wind, which helps us see if the coming year is going to bring a rainy season,” she says. “My grandma could not have a PhD on land restoration and be recognized in the IPCC or Paris Agreement, but she is an expert on her land.”
As more than two-thirds of Chad’s landscapes feels the detrimental effects of climate change, leading to increased conflict among communities competing for arable land, Ibrahim continues to raise her voice for local communities and Indigenous peoples as a United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Advocate and member of the United Nations Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues. “Why can’t we move on from our land-locked mind,” she implores, “to go to those who are already restoring for centuries?”