This open letter was collaboratively written by the Lush Spring Prize community, at the week of events in October 2021.
Art © Rosanna Morris, 2021
“Everybody is saying, ‘we'll do this, we'll do that’. But there's nothing, just words floating in the air. We need not just words, but also actions.”
Jimmy Yumbo, young forest defender, Sacha Kuyrana, Ecuador
To all those considering our future, at COP26 and beyond,
We are writing to you from five different continents as those working to repair the earth’s damaged systems. We ask you - as world leaders, as policy makers, as those concerned for our climate - to take heed of the work of regenerators from so many different movements: Indigenous land defenders, peasant farmers, agroecologists, permaculture practitioners, natural builders, food sovereignty activists, and more.
“To take care of our planet, we cannot work in silos, we have to work together.”
Dominant conversations about climate change have often been reduced to focusing on carbon alone or looking towards high-tech solutions that may not be technologically viable, or may even continue to fuel the crisis further.
Yet, the human, ecological and climate crises we face are connected and intersecting - and therefore need holistic solutions.
Regeneration invites us to think systemically. It means paradigms and practices that take a whole-systems approach to solving problems; looking at all the intersecting threads of our cultures, and restoring health, wholeness and resilience throughout.
As we wait for the COP26 agreements, the rights and wellbeing of all Life, human and non-human, must be at the forefront of our decisions. We ask: what would the future look like if we saw human civilization as part of nature rather than separate from the whole?
“It is time to focus on equitable education, sanitation, housing and healthcare in the Global South and the restructuring and redistribution of resources from the Global North based on a national and global economy. One that does not systemically exceed our upper ecological limits nor descend below an unacceptable quality of life.”
Guy Ritani, PermaQueer
We know that what this looks like in different contexts will always be unique. Regeneration must therefore also be embedded in the approach, in the process. It must be collaborative, it must come from the voices of people. It must be embedded in the communities from which it emerges. Otherwise, it is colonialism in disguise.
“The solutions lie deep in our cultures, in the way we work to connect with our ancestral wisdom.”
Simon Mitambo, African Biodiversity Network
Practitioners from our intersecting movements have worked on the fringes of society for too long. They’ve been excluded from conversations. They’ve been killed for what we stand up for.
We need to give platforms to those who have been historically marginalised or left out of policy conversations. Indigenous and First Nations communities; small holder farmers; communities from the Global South; those affected by climate disaster and conflict; refugees and displaced people; young people.
These voices are important to listen to as, in the words of Kenyan Peasants’ League, “no one mourns more than the bereaved;” or of PermaQueer, “The failings of our systems are never more known than by those who they have failed.” Only by listening to such perspectives can true change emerge.
There are narratives for a better future, and they’re coming from the margins.
When we give space to listen and hear these communities, unique and innovative solutions will emerge. Many of these solutions are already being practiced all around the world.
Now is the time to elevate the voices of regenerative practitioners and showcase a better world that is possible. Incredible, innovative solutions already exist, but they need funding, support, and voice.
This letter is therefore an invitation to listen to our unique voices and hear what we are saying, the solutions we understand, the strength we are holding - embedded in experience, in culture and in place.
The Lush Spring Prize Community, including:
Anna Clayton, Ethical Consumer, UK
Francesca de la Torre, Ethical Consumer, UK
James Atherton, Lush Ltd, UK
Maria Anchundia, Sacha Kuyrana, Ecuador
Ahmed Sourani, Gaza Urban & Peri-urban Agriculture Platform (GUPAP), Palestine
Simon Mitambo, African Biodiversity Network and Society for Alternative Learning and Transformation
Eskender Mulugeta, Food Secured Schools Africa, Ethiopia
Teodora Borghoff, Timișoara Community Foundation, Romania
Lewis Mashingaidze, Fambidzanai, Zimbabwe
Norani Abu Bakar, Education for Climate Action for Peace, Malaysia
Jessie Doyle, Lush Ltd, Ireland,
Cidi Otieno David, Kenyan Peasants League
Ola Tom Lakere, Youth In Permaculture Prize judge 2021, Permayouth Kitgum, Uganda
Jackie Kearney, Re-Alliance
Filipa Pimentel, Transition Network
Anna Andrade, Regenerosity
Amanda Joy Ravenhill, Buckminster Fuller Institute
Ego Lemos, Permaculture Timor-Leste (Permatil)
John Macharia, SCOPE Kenya
Monique Wambui, SCOPE Kenya
Gideon Mawenge, The Marginalised Mirror, Namibia
Kanghi Kayapri, Associação Centro de Cultura Sabuká Kariri Xocó, Brazil
Tah Kennette Konsum, Mount Oku Center for Gender and Socioeconomic Empowerment, Cameroon
Tomás de Lara, Ciudades+B / Cities Can B, Brazil.
Sarah Queblatin, Green Releaf, Philippines
Josie Redmonds, Malawi Schools Permaculture Clubs
Bianca Elzenbaumer, Comunità Frizzante, Italy
Maria Inés Cuj, Instituto Mesoamericano de Permacultura, Guatemala
Anne Rammi, Be The Earth Foundation