'I dare you to be great - go on, stand up and speak out. We get to determine what the future is. Let's engage in the big questions of our time.' - Polly Higgins

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The World Needs Polly's Story

Posted on Apr 30, 2019 by Rachel  | Comments (0)

Polly Higgins by Ruth Davey


When I started Brand New Story it was my firm belief that the most important story of our time, one that I could only ever dream of working on, was the story of one of my heroes, earth lawyer Polly Higgins.

Making the evolutionary leap from copywriter to storyteller involved writing, what was to become, my first ever Brand New Story. When it came to casting my hero I chose Polly and got to work on a mythical narrative between her and I that ended with the line (that is now my company's strapline) The World Needs Your Story. 

A few years passed and towards the end of 2018 when I was co-working at Make It Studios in Stroud one of my fellow coworkers, Joanna Robbins, introduced me to Polly after speaking with her about my work.

In a matter of days, I went to see her speak in St Laurence's Church Hall and was introduced to her afterwards. I was nervous. I can remember my legs shaking. She was warm and lovely. She simply grabbed hold of my hands and said: 'Yes, let's do this' and I instantly relaxed into her warm presence. Shortly afterwards Polly, Jojo, Anita and I set to work on their 'world-changing' story. 

Rachel Savage, Polly Higgins and JoJo Mehta sitting on a sofa in Polly's office

Those were the first and last times I met Polly. The last time we met was when this picture was taken. I had expected to see her again and looked forward to  bumping into her around town. Alas, it wasn't to be. Polly passed away on Easter Sunday and later this week I will be attending her funeral in the church next to the hall where I heard her speak just six months ago. 

But I already know that this funeral is going to be unlike any I have attended before. Because there is a joy present. For the incredible woman Polly was and the awesome legacy she leaves: the law of Ecocide and so much besides.  

So, what is Ecocide?

Ecocide is defined as serious loss, damage or destruction of ecosystems, and includes climate and cultural damage.

Establishing a crime of Ecocide would ensure that those responsible – eg CEOs and government ministers – would be individually criminally responsible for the damage they recklessly cause or contribute to. Putting an end to the state-sanctioned immunity currently enjoyed by industrial polluters.

Who can propose Ecocide?

Any member state, including the UK, can propose an amendment to the International Criminal Court'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.

Passing the Baton

In a matter of weeks, Polly and her team's story has evolved into Stop Ecocide: Change the Law and merged with the perfect storm that is Extinction Rebellion. Divine timing indeed. The baton has been passed to Polly's 'partner in making a crime' JoJo Mehta and their legal team who will continue her work to get the law of Ecocide onto the Rome Statute at the International Criminal Court.  

One of the best things I have read about Polly recently spoke of her talent for making an entrance having now been surpassed by her breathtaking exit. And with a wry grin on her face too. She knew alright.

Yes, the World Needs Your Story, Polly.

And do you know what? I think it's finally ready to listen.



It was Polly's dying wish that a million people sign up to become Earth Protectors and support the change in law to make Ecocide a crime. It only costs £5 and if you run a businesses it can also pledge its support. 

Read Polly's obituary in The Guardian.



Brand New Story gives conscious leaders the tools, space and courage to create their business, charity or social enterprise as a new breed of organisation, with a compelling story, that supports the global shift towards a thriving zero emissions economy. 

Right now, the world needs more stories like Polly's. If you have one to tell - especially one that supports the huge shift that's currently occuring - and you'd like help, please do get in touch. I'd love to help you write it.

Special thanks for the photo: Ruth Davey/Look Again - Photography for the Wellbeing of People and Planet.



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