It’s 2030, imagine if…

The Martuwarra Youth Council (MYC) future-proofed Indigenous climate and cultural leadership in Western Australia. The pairing of Fitzroy River Council Elders with emerging leaders re-established the value of Traditional Knowledge in the wider Australian community and validated the principles of First Law in academic and government spheres. Despite the threats of fracking, mining, and industrial agriculture through the 2020s, the MYC used this collaborative governance to protect the Fitzroy River, one of Earth's last great river systems, for future generations to thrive. In 2026, the United Nations' Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues invited the MYC to present their Declaration, which resulted in an increase in forums and peer-to-peer networks focused on Indigenous-led climate recovery throughout Western Australia.

Summary of solution

Martuwarra (Fitzroy River) is one of Earth’s last great River systems and Western Australia‘s largest Cultural Heritage Site. Yet, Martuwarra is under threat of destructive development include fracking, mining, and industrial agriculture which will impact the entire Kimberley region.Martuwarra (Fitzroy River) Council is an alliance of Elders and emerging leaders from six independent nations of the Fitzroy River Catchment. Our collective governance approach spans across the whole of the Fitzroy River Catchment, replicating traditional ‘Warlongarriy’ law.

Our mission is to ensure Martuwarra (Fitzroy River), a living ancestor and a global treasure, retains a right to flow, while developing environmentally sustainable economies for Indigenous People that re-establishes the value of our cultures. We use First Law principles to fight climate change, using short and long-term strategies. In this project, Martuwarra Fitzroy River Council Elders are paired with a young leader, whom they mentor in First Law, to continue this mission long into the future.

Why is this solution innovative

This project is setting a precedent across the country for Indigenous led climate recovery. The establishment of the Martuwarra Youth Council aims to future-proof Indigenous leadership in the Kimberley. They are resourcing Traditional Custodians to work on Country, researching, managing and protecting this globally unique River system. Our Elders and young Indigenous leaders are pioneering innovative and entrepreneurial industries and job creation. This transformative workforce development program is based on Indigenous science, cultural capital and conservation. We are developing economic opportunities which are focused on restoration, not extraction