Polly Higgins (EarthTalks)

 “I have a choice: to protect our Earth or to let it be destroyed. For me it is unconscionable to walk away.”


Polly stepped out of her career in London as a successful barrister to put her skills into use for just one client – the Earth. Walking away from a hugely lucrative career, Polly took up the mantle as an ecological lawyer to advance the international crime of ecocide. Building on her professional experience in court and her legal rigour, in 2010 she presented to the United Nations her proposal for ecocide to become an international crime (ecosystem destruction caused by corporate and State action), to protect the Earth and communities on the front-line of ecological and climate ecocide (ecosystem loss or damage caused by corporate and State in-action). Her not-for-profit, Ecological Defence Integrity, brings together lawyers, experts and judges internationally to advise on Ecocide law.

Polly is rethinking law from one simple overriding principle: ‘first do no harm.’  Ecocide, like apartheid and genocide, is a crime of serious magnitude. Ecocide as a crime is often referred to as missing State crime, corporate crime, eco-crime, leadership crime, a crime against peace.


Its simple to add a crime of ecocide to the list of international crimes at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

It’s powerful: the perpetrators (CEOs and government ministers) shall by law be held personally held to account for the serious damage caused, thereby ending state-sanctioned industrial immunity.

It’s possible: any member nation state, however small, can propose an amendment to the ICC’s governing document, the Rome Statute. Once tabled, it cannot be vetoed. When two thirds of ICC members sign up to it, it becomes law.


Working with a number of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) who are at the frontline of climate ecocide, it became increasingly apparent that the very nation states that most require ecocide crime do not have proper representation at the annual and interim meetings of the International Criminal Court. For the past 3 years Polly has attended the annual Assembly, making representations on ecocide crime. Each year, she has taken a team of lawyers and experts.

Last year she launched a campaign: Mission Lifeforce. Taking an unprecedented step, an Earth Protectors Trust Fund was created.  The Mission of the Earth Protectors is to fund the Small Island Developing States delegate costs. You can sign up here:

“This is a legacy mission like no other.
Taking ecocide crime into the International Criminal Court is a legal fast lane.”


Polly is the 2017 prizewinner of the Slovakian Ekotopfilm Award; she recently ranked as No.35 in Salt magazine’s 2016 Top 100 Inspiring Women of the world list and was the 2016 recipient of Polarbröd‘s Utstickarpriset for Future Leadership. She was the holder of the 2013/14 Honorary Arne Naess Professorship, Oslo University (non-academic); the keynote Rachel Carson Speaker for the 50th Anniversary Memorial Lecture (both in London and in the Netherlands); a recipient of the Honoris Causa Business Doctorate from the Business School of Lausanne, Switzerland; winner of the Peoples Book Award (non-fiction) for Eradicating Ecocide (2nd Edition published in 2015) and author of Earth is our Business. In recognition of her advocacy, she is hailed as ‘One of the world’s top ten visionary thinkers’ by the Ecologist Magazine.  She is a founder of the Earth Law Alliance.

You can read more here.


Polly loves seaweed, raw chocolate and organic whisky – and sharing them with friends; biodynamics, flipping normatives, asking big questions and creative out-of the box thinking. She has a deep love of beauty in nature and in art, and is greatly inspired by 17th Century Dutch art (discovered when she was an Erasmus student in Utrecht) – Cleasz Heda’s still life paintings, the Austrian artist and ecologist Hundertwasser, to name a few. Being nourished by nature reinforces her strong sense of what justice for the Earth could be. Outside of Earth law, she’d love to explore the remaining great wildernesses of the world on a motorbike.

You can read more about Polly and ecocide crime at; you can watch Advocate for the Earth, the Dutch documentary about Polly (see also: short 15 minute version is available in Dutch).

Polly can be found on twitter @PollyHiggins and occasionally on facebook

And – please, join the Mission!