Yesterday I published Albert Bates' Commonwealth post about an unprecedented event: a group of the world's most innovative, practical thinkers, researchers and activists were invited to the Commonwealth Offices to brainstorm about ways in which to restore our global climate. The Secretary-General, Baroness Patricia Scotland (she prefers to be called 'S.G.') made it clear that the Commonwealth nations have identified climate change as their top priority.
Comprising of one third of the global population and 52 nations, the Commonwealth is a very powerful voice at international climate talks. 60% of the population of the Commonwealth are under 30. The island nations particularly are aware of the existential threat of extreme climate change. For instance, because of its location and climate-related changes, the Dominica (where the SG's family are from) routinely experiences environmental problems like flooding, droughts, extreme soil erosion, water shortages. In 2015, in just a few hours, strong winds and rains destroyed critical infrastructure that took the small nation of about 70,000 people more than five years of normal investment for the country. The total damage and loss was estimated at US$483 million, equivalent to 90 percent of Dominica’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Dominica is one of the most vulnerable nations on the planet.
At the meeting it emerged that the value of adopting practical tools to sequestering carbon in the soil with carbon farming, agroecology and permaculture, the regeneration of marine coastal margins or indeed the process of transitioning to the circular economy are not in dispute. Quite the opposite, they are fully accepted as workable solutions. It is persuading the big carbon emitting nations like the UK, India and Australia of the extreme urgency required. A systemic policy U-turn is required and given the science, the inertia is irrational. The issues are complex. It is not all about vested interests or short-term political myopia. There is also the fear of plummeting GDP and poverty. How then can we reframe economics (because climate change is going to cost trillions in adaptation and aid) and effect a paradigm shift?
I had thought that my role at the event would be to wave the carbon sequestration in soil and biomass flag. Far from it, it was to try and understand the blocks and inertia towards change and find the pathway towards that paradigm shift. More of that later...
My last task after two intense and stimulating days of brainstorming was to be part of a group asked to write a Climate Restoration Manifesto for the Commonwealth. We brainstormed for an afternoon and then each wrote down a synthesis of the process that we presented to the whole group in a final plenary. We were asked to add Guiding Principles to our manifestos. This is my version which will be integrated into one final document. You will of course see the influence of permaculture shining through.
Climate Restoration Manifesto for the Commonwealth
We believe that humanity is capable of regenerating the Earth. Bringing carbon home is the first step in a multi-dimensional whole systems restoration for all species and habitats. It will bring new cycles of ecological, social, and economic wealth, and support Earth care, people care, and fair shares between all species.
We pledge to seed a practical, full-spectrum program of storing carbon in the soil and biomass. We pledge to restore terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. We pledge to create a new dynamic of personal and collective potential.
Life is inherently creative. When humans create conditions that engender life, life itself responds exponentially
Proliferate actions by sowing seeds that acknowledge and respect a sense of place
Use resources intelligently
Turn waste into components and nutrients and cycle them
Encourage and support diversity. Design for resilience
Create feedback loops and creatively respond to change
Seek to observe and understand nature as a rich source of circular, restorative and regenerative insights and wisdom, and model them in all human-scale systems
Always aspire to do minimum harm.
About Maddy Harland
Maddy Harland is editor and co-founder of Permaculture magazine, an international quarterly in print, digital and online at permaculture.co.uk. Maddy co-founded Permanent Publications in 1990, a publishing company, and the Sustainability Centre in Hampshire, UK, once a military base, and now a thriving immersive learning centre. She is a founding member Gaia Education who developed the Ecovillage Design Education course endorsed by UNESCO. Maddy is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and is a Visiting Knowledge Exchange Fellow of the Institute of Theological Partnerships at the University of Winchester in the UK.
The Cloudburst Foundation was the catalyst for this initiative - see http://cloudburstfoundation.com