Governments, corporations crush global action for environmental regeneration

Governments, corporations crush global action for environmental regeneration

Lush Spring Prize judges write an open letter calling on governments to put the Sustainable Development Goals at the heart of their policy and programmes for action

  • Daniel Christian Wahl
4 min read
Daniel Christian Wahl

Celebrating global action on regeneration, voicing grave concerns

The second Lush Spring Prize attracted over 300 entries, with 53 shortlisted as exemplary projects in four categories.

As judges we read each one with keen interest. Which of these projects held most promise for the regeneration and healing of communities and the natural world? Which of them could be replicated or learnt from so that we can accelerate the important work of planetary healing?

The judges of the 2018 Spring Prize in March 2018 together with Ethical Consumer and LUSH staff

We were hugely impressed. Projects included, to name just four out of 52:

Jewels in the Desert, a visionary proposal to transform one of the oldest and largest refugee camps in the Sahara into an example of ecosystem regeneration in extreme arid climates.

AgroEcoPolis, a capacity building network training young people, farmers and refugees in Greece in agroecology, community supported agriculture and permaculture in support of increased food sovereignty and regeneration of regional economies, ecosystems and rural communities.

CEJUDHCAN, a centre supporting the rights of indigenous people in Nicaragua to their traditional territories that is actively promoting regenerative land management and working directly with families in these communities to increase their food security.

The African Biodiversity Network running exchange programmes between 12 countries to strengthen indigenous knowledge, ecological agriculture, biodiversity related rights, policies and legislation through uniting actions and partners in culturally centred approaches to social and ecological problems.

But we were also gravely concerned. Whilst the projects were solutions orientated, the challenges they are working on paint a picture of a world teetering on the edge of crisis. Projects reported a closing of the democratic space in which civil society operates. Undemocratic and even allegedly democratic states are making it harder than ever to challenge the dominant ‘growth at all costs’ economic systems.

Corporations are lobbying hard to keep their special interests and exclude the voices and needs of the poor and marginalised. Refugee populations are at historic highs with over 63 million people displaced around the globe.

Many of these affected people languish for years or even decades in refugee and IDP camps with little hope or access to tools that would enable them to create long term resilience and stability. Indigenous people are being murdered, kidnapped and removed from their land. Ecosystems are being torn up and discarded in the pursuit of short term profits.

Why should communities and pioneers offering such positive solutions face so much opposition? We call on responsible governments to hold their peers to account. Human rights abuses and gross destruction of the environment affects us all. We need much more robust respect and enforcement of international law. 193 governments have signed up to the Sustainable Development Goals, and yet many of our applicants, all operating within those countries, are under-resourced and sometimes actively opposed.

We call on governments to put the Sustainable Development Goals at the heart of their policy and programmes for action, and support the pioneering work being delivered by their people.

Lush Cosmetics is acting in an exemplary way, converting its supply chains to ensure the highest social and environmental standards are at the heart of their supply chains. They commit significant funds and human resources to supporting regeneration projects worldwide. We need more companies like Lush, putting people and planet at the heart of their enterprise, and sharing some of their surplus to help communities and projects willing to step up and make a difference.

Humanity as a whole faces disastrous runaway climate change, a planetary mass-extinction of vital biodiversity, a degradation of ecosystems health everywhere, oceans and our food-chain full of plastic, rapidly rising inequality within and between nations, widespread infringement on human rights. How is it possible that billions are being spent on subsidizing the fossil fuel industry and on preparing for war and civil unrest, yet the projects we had the honour of judging and the pleasure of learning from and being inspired by are chronically underfunded and under supported?

Each and every project in the final selection we read deserves a prize. Each one of them serves as proof that we have the choice. That we can transform the human impact on Earth from being predominantly destructive and exploitative to being regenerative and collaborative. We call on people, businesses and governments to take response-ability and rally support behind millions of projects like these. Together we can, and must, make the 21st Century the ‘Century of Regeneration’.


  • Andy Goldring, Chief Executive Officer, Permaculture Association
  • Daniel Christian Wahl, author of ‘Designing Regenerative Cultures’
  • Warren Brush, trainer in Resilience Design
  • Rebecca Jones, Lush staff judge
  • Jyoti Fernandes, member of coordinating committee for the European  Coordination of Via Campesina
  • Dorothy Guerrero, Head of Policy and Advocacy at Global Justice Now
  • Precious Phiri, member of Regeneration International steering committee
  • Filipa Pimentel, National Hubs Coordinator, Transition Network
  • Gamelihle Sibanda, Certfied Biomimicry Professional
  • Pandora Thomas, co-founder of Black Permaculture Network
  • Julia Wright, co-founder of the Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience at Coventry University.

Also published by Ethical Consumer:

News feed from Ethical Consumer - Celebrating global action on regeneration, voicing grave concern
Celebrating global action on regeneration, voicing grave concern Written by: 14/05/2018 10:22 Lush Spring Prize judges

Member discussion