The law of Ecocide
- By Polly Higgins -
- Mar 02, 2012
Many of the world's resources are being eroded by businesses putting profit first, here's a guest blog on how a change in the law could alter the planet's future for the better...
One thing I have learned recently is a new term - Adaptive Leadership. Have you heard of it? Richard Branson is living it; leadership that is emergent, adaptive and interactive. Leadership that is responding to the fast emerging and changing world; adaptive leadership embraces the challenge and seeks out new pathways to new solutions. It is a form of leadership which puts people and planet first.
Being open to emergence of a new way creates the space for innovation to thrive, adaptability and fast learning become the norm and all are enabled through distributed processes. Often we talk about emergency being something to fear, but when we understand that it means ‘the state of emergence’ then we can shift our vision and recognise that there is a whole new world of potential out there. How we get there is where I come in.
In April 2010 I proposed to the United Nations that we create a new international law, a law of Ecocide, to close the door to mass damage and destruction of the Earth. The problem we have at the moment is that we have a world that has put profit first, without looking to the consequences. Did you know that it is a war crime to destroy the Earth, over a certain size, duration and impact? During peace-time you can do it every day and it is called business.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-business, far from it. In-fact I believe that business can take a very different route given the right conditions. The problem just now is that it is the law to put profit first. What that means is that is the norm to make money from mass destruction. Look at all extractive business; energy companies that want to turn green can’t - it is the law to put profit first, even when that means that the systems being used are massively destructive. That makes us complicit in a system that is contributing to the death of us all. Sometimes the law is an ass!
We can change the rules of the game, after-all that is all that law is, rules of the game of life. Instead of placing profit without consequence first we can put people and planet first. How can we do that, you ask? We create a new law that supersedes all other laws - we create an international law - a law that prohibits investment, policy and business that arises out of mass damage and destruction.
That law is called Ecocide. When we create a law of Ecocide we close the door to mass destruction and we open the floodgates to innovation, investment and policy in another direction. This is law to create the world’s largest job creation scheme in the world. Can you think of any other way we can do this? We have tried to create markets out of hot air and that didn’t work, we have tried to impose carbon emission limits but our emissions have escalated and we have tried to get over 10,000 negotiators in climate negotiations to agree - to something, anything, but not to a global legislative framework that closes the door very firmly to the route we are currently on.
The beauty with changing the rules of the game is that they can be changed very fast. Did you know that all governments can pass emergency legislation overnight? In times of emergency we look to our leaders to create new pathways that can help us adapt to the new world. What we are figuring out is how to adapt, and that requires new rules and a new form of leadership. It’s that term again - Adaptive Leadership. That’s what we need - Richard Branson, show them the way!
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