Indigenous Masks - Covid, Climate & Art

While 2020 will be remembered as the year that witnessed COVID-19 disrupting the world order, it is also a critical year for global environmental governance given 5 years since the Paris Agreement and SDG adoption, and the UN Ocean Conference and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) that was scheduled this year. These collective decision-making milestones are an opportunity to transform our relationship with nature. 


Indigenous Masks is a hybrid project framework that lies at the intersection of pandemic response, arts and climate & biodiversity conservation by functioning on the multi-stakeholder theory. It integrates the challenge of the Covid pandemic with our community through its #Shaping Fashion movement and WEF's Young Global Leaders - Global Shapers Community 30x30 initiative.


The Covid Crisis has put at risk the jobs of artisans, craftsmen and weavers in rural parts of the country. To support the local artisan landscape, we are kick-starting a mask development project that will support certain communities across the length and breadth of the country. We may also explore diversifying the initiative to other merchandise such as scarves, bags and furnishings after the Covid crisis recedes.

By activating local communities to ‘Shape the Future of Fashion’ in light of the Davos Manifesto that was launched during the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in January 2020, Shaping Fashion is a global, grass-roots initiative to accelerate the sustainable transformation of the fashion industry through knowledge and tools.


The World Economic Forum, supported by key partners, is championing the critical issue of protecting at least 30% of the world’s land and water by 2030, in light of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. The Young Global Leaders - Global Shapers Community 30x30 Initiative is designed to meet this very target.


Under our hybrid project framework, we are collaborating with organizations, from across different regions in the country, that work with local artists and tribal communities championing indigenous art forms and biodiversity themes. Our first pilot is with MITHILAsmita, an award winning social organization preserving the skill of Madhubani artists, and Earth Day Network and Climate Reality Project India, our sector & community partners, to create safe and sustainable biodiversity championing masks that will give livelihood to artisans whose jobs have been lost due to the Covid crisis.

This product will be custom made for niche ecosystems, WEF initiatives such as Global Shaper hubs and partner organizations. Thereafter, we may also explore taking the product to e-commerce platforms. As showcased, this project will help us move beyond viewing ecosystem products and services as mere externalities to embedding them as an inherent component of Public-Private-People-Planet partnerships.