Gould, R.K., M. Pai, B. Muraca and K.M.A. Chan (2019). “He ʻike ʻana ia i ka pono (it is a recognizing of the right thing): how one indigenous worldview informs relational values and social values.” Sustainability Science. Doi: 10.1007/s11625-019-00721-9
The ideas of relational values and social values are gaining prominence in sustainability science. Here, we ask: how well do these value conceptions resonate with one Indigenous worldview? The relational values concept broadens conceptions of values beyond instrumental and intrinsic values to encompass preferences and principles about human relationships that involve more-than-humans. The social values concept, an umbrella idea, captures a plurality of values related to society and the common good. After a general description of these two concepts as expressed in the Western peer-reviewed literature, we adopt the lens of relational values to engage with decades of scholarly work and millennia of wisdom based on Indigenous Hawaiian worldviews. We describe five long-standing Hawaiian values that embody notions of appropriate relationships, including human–ecosystem relationships: pono (~ righteousness, balance); hoʻomana (~ creating spirituality); mālama (~ care); kuleana (~ right, responsibility); aloha (~ love, connection). We find that all five resonate deeply with, and help to enrich, relational value concepts. We then draw on these Hawaiian values to discuss differences between relational values and social values frameworks; though both concepts add useful elements to the discourse about values, the relational values concept may be particularly well positioned to represent elements often important to indigenous worldviews—elements such as reciprocity, balance, and extension of “society” beyond human beings. As global processes (e.g., IPBES) commit to better reflecting Indigenous and local knowledge and embrace diverse value concepts as (purported) avenues toward representing values held by diverse communities, our findings suggest that relational values offer special promise and a crucial contribution.