News >> A tribute to Polly Higgins

A tribute to Polly Higgins

polly higgins
Tuesday, 23 April, 2019

Tributes have been paid to Polly Higgins after her death from cancer at the age of 50. 

The writer and barrister, who died at the weekend, led a decade-long campaign for “ecocide” to be recognised as a crime against humanity.

A few years ago it was decided that Polly should be made a fellow of Schumacher College to recognise her support for it and also demonstrate allegiance with her work.

She had been both student and teacher at the College and Satish Kumar said she would be very much missed:   

Polly was a great dreamer. Her dream was to see the whole world recognise the sanctity of the earth and live in harmony with her. She was also a warrior. She was fighting to make the destruction of land, devastation of forests, pollution of oceans and contamination of atmosphere a crime against nature. In her view ecocide is as serious a crime as genocide.

She was a lawyer by profession. But instead of working for her personal success she devoted her entire life in the service of the earth. The earth herself was Polly’s client and she worked day and night defending the rights of nature. There are thousands of lawyers defending human rights but Polly was one of the few who made unconditional commitment to defend the rights of the earth.

She was only 50 years old when she was taken ill with incurable cancer. It spread fast and her body was unable to cope with it. Many thousands of her friends around the world were praying for her recovery. But in the end she had to let go and move on. Her body is gone but her legacy of fighting for the cause of the earth lives on.

Polly was a great supporter and a frequent teacher at Schumacher College. We will miss her hugely but we will carry on the task of defending the earth and serving the cause of Mother Nature.

Rachel Fleming, former Short Course Development Manager at the College said she hoped that her legacy would be the continuation and fulfilment of her work:

"A few years ago we took the decision to make Polly a fellow of Schumacher College, in gratitude for her immense support of our work and to show our allegiance with her great undertaking, the embedding of ecocide, crimes against the earth, into the international legal system.

She always said that the inspiration for this work came from her studies here at the College, something for which we are very proud! ... and she has returned many times since to teach on short courses.

One of the most memorable was a course that she was very clear she wanted to call 'Voice of the Earth', and it's really this title that encapsulates our memory of her. She was perhaps one of the most important voices of the earth for our times.

We will miss her absolute enthusiasm for good ideas, her clarity on what is needed to be done in the world, for her openness, kind-heartedness and friendship to all, however busy she became.

She will be greatly missed and long remembered and we hope, above all, that her work will go from strength to strength and perhaps, when we look back, have taken a pivotal role in the great change that our times so badly require and that she worked so tirelessly for.