Polly Higgins - a lawyer campaigning for the planet
Polly Higgins is a barrister and author. She is campaigning for a law of ecocide to be recognised by the United Nations as the fifth crime against peace - alongside genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression.
Polly has been described as the planet's lawyer. The "Guardian" newspaper called her one of their Green Heroes and the cult online magazine "Planet Green" identified her as one of the top "unreasonable people" in the world.
How would you describe yourself?
I'm a lawyer of the Earth. The original meaning of "lawyer" is healing the wounds or ills of communities. My work is exactly about that - about healing the wider Earth community's wounds.
What gets you up in the morning?
My firm belief that an international law of ecocide can become reality, and that we are the generation that can make it happen.
What do you do when things get tough?
Remind myself that it's important that I stay focused on the new world I want to participate in.
What did you think when you were labelled as one of the top unreasonable people in the world?
I thought: that's excellent! It's the fundamental recognition to challenge the established norm. It frees you up to do things differently.
You've talked about the value of nature and that we all have to care for it. How can we make this happen?
There is no one solution. Some people need to see mass destruction to wake up. Others need to spend more time in nature and embrace its beauty. Enjoying and appreciating natural beauty can be very powerful because it touches a deeper sense of love and care for the Earth in us, because nature is where we come from.
When are you happiest?
When I look at my work and feel that I'm doing the right thing. I'm also happy when I can mooch around galleries: I love art. It makes me very happy when I'm in nature, taking time out and being close to the sea or in the mountains. And I love spending time with my husband. He knows how to make me laugh.
Who is your greatest hero and why?
Billy Connolly, the Scottish comedian, musician, presenter and actor. He really makes me laugh, particularly when he laughs about his own jokes.
What's the most important lesson life has taught you?
To look at things from a different perspective. I've only recently learned that looking for funding is not a crisis but an opportunity to do things differently. All too often we get hung up by change. Sometimes old systems have to go for fundamentally new things to emerge.
What's your proudest moment?
I can tell you what my proudest moment will be: when I realise that the day has come that I can let go of this big idea to get an international law of ecocide signed off by the UN, and when I can let others run with it. I know that this day will come and I will be very proud.
Interview by Karen Liebenguth, Publications and New Media team
© Polly Higgins