For COP26 – A Letter from the Earth Repairers

Lush Spring Prize
Monday, 8th November 2021

An open letter to COP26 from five continents of earth repairers. World leaders and policy makers at COP26 need to listen and learn from the regeneration movements: Indigenous land defenders, peasant farmers, agroecologists, permaculture practitioners, natural builders, food sovereignty activists, and more.

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.
Aznani, Education for Climate Action for Peace

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 are asking for a just transition into a world where planetary care, human care, care for wildlife, and equitable distribution and access to resources are central tenets.

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. 

Signed by:

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

Coral Herencia. Fundación Cuidemos Paraísos. Chile.

Guy Ritani & Toad Dell, PermaQueer, Australia

Jessie Doyle, Lush Ltd, Ireland,

Georgina McAllister, Centre for Agroecology, Water & Resilience, Coventry University. AgroecologyNow!

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

Faith Flanigan, Regenerosity & the Buckminster Fuller Institute

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

It is time to have less talk and have more actions toward biodiversity regeneration. The future of the young people is much more important as that of the current generation.
John Macharia, SCOPE Kenya

In the Amazon here, we have oil exploitation causing so much harm, deforesting big areas of land. My family members are joining forces to not allow oil companies to come in and deforest.
María Anchundia, young forest defender, Sacha Kuyrana, Ecuador

Resguardar social, ecológica y legalmente los principales ecosistemas de la Tierra - Biosfera - es fundamental para garantizar la posibilidad de un mundo sano para nuestras generaciones venideras."

“Protecting socially, ecologically and legally the main ecosystems of the Earth - Biosphere - is essential to guarantee the possibility of a healthy world for our future generations.”
Fundación Cuidemos Paraísos, Chile 

“En nuestro país el 85% de la tierra  está ocupada por grandes fincas de caña de azúcar y palma aceitera y acceder a tierra por parte de familias productoras es muy difícil. Actualmente personas defensoras están siendo criminalizadas por defender el derecho humano y el agua.”

“In our country, 85% of the land is occupied by large sugar cane and oil palm farms and access to land by producer families is very difficult. Defenders are currently being criminalized for defending human rights and water.”
Instituto Mesoamericano de Permacultura IMAP - Guatemala

The global South has been heavily affected by climate change, urgency and innovations are needed in improving adaptability and promoting sustainable use of limited resources by smallholder farmers whilst increasing the carbon sequestration.” 
Lewis Mashingaidze,  Fambidzanai

Useful links

An alternative for COP26: Solutions and resources for reversing climate change

Farming, climate change mitigation and land restoration: global projects celebrated in LUSH Spring Prize