Eradicating Ecocide


In Arne Næss’s words, ‘think dutifully, act beautifully.’ Those words resonate so deeply with me, and a law of Ecocide can be said to be a legal expression of his intent.

In 2010 I proposed into the United Nations that Ecocide be an international Crime Against Peace. Since then, I have been taking this big idea out into the world.  You can read more about the law of Ecocide at

It has been my honour to be the 2013 Arne Naess Chair at SUM, Olso University. SUM, Centre for Development and the Environment, is ‘an inter-faculty centre with focus on inter-disciplinary research, network activities and coordination of research collaboration within the University of Oslo, and with external institutions. The Centre shall function as a driving force (drivkraft) within the University as well as in society and the private sector. SUM works with research, teaching and dissemination of knowledge about development and the environment, with emphasis on the interface between development and the environment. SUM provides teaching at all levels and offers courses to collaborating faculty programs at bachelor, master and Ph.D. levels.’ (Source: University of Oslo Board, January 26, 2004)

The intent of the Arne Naess project is to work in the spirit of Arne Naess, and to explore together the concept of deep ecology in action. Academia today embraces many diverse and holistic approaches and when we work from a principle of ‘first do no harm‘ then the outcome can only be creative. To ‘think dutifully, act beautifully‘ is what each and every one of the people and projects that are highlighted here are putting into action. The Arne Naess Project has shone a light on some projects that will greatly benefit from a law of Ecocide that puts people and planet first.

The Arne Naess Project students are entering into a deeper enquiry; collaborating, sharing and asking the questions we do not know the answer to. Each week we met for an open space of deeper enquiry and hosting. There was one caveat: come only if it makes your heart sing. There were no essays: we played with coloured pens to explore the interconnectedness of our work, key words and clustering to bring to light the common themes, we role-played with the art of powerful questions and we learned how to build a website.

This is a shift from the norms of teaching; I have learned as much if not more from the students and we have discovered new tools to explore some of the deeper levels not normally explored. It’s a path without an end, and it is hoped that many others will follow.

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Earth is our Business RSA talk and book launch

EARTHtalks 2013: Polly Higgins

About Polly Higgins

Polly has been a lawyer for the Earth for the past 8 years. Before that her work as a barrister was based in London. Recently at Oslo University as the 2013 Arne Naess Chair in Global Justice and the Environment, her time with the students has been reflected here. Polly proposed in 2010 the creation of an international law of Ecocide – an idea that has seeded across the world. She is a vocal advocate for Earth law, Restorative Justice and has written the award-winning Eradicating Ecocide followed closely by her second book, Earth is our Business. Polly is considered to be the leading expert on the law of Ecocide and a pioneer in her field. Polly’s values can be summed up as one over-riding principle that governs all of her work: ‘first do no harm.’ Polly is also the Chair of the Eradicating Ecocide Global Initiative.

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