Dr Nial Moores, Director, Birds Korea
The Lush Summit? A high-end cosmetics company holding some kind of global meeting for environmental and social activisits in the UK? Initially sceptical, in many ways this was perhaps the most surprising and stimulating event that I have been to – ever – requiring much more than a single blog post to describe. There are just so many threads to pull together: some intensely private, others more public. But as the Lush Summit is a story that speaks to the very heart of the work that Birds Korea does and of the values that many of us hold, please let me try to capture some of it here.
Imagine if you will an old soot-stained grey-brick warehouse, a few minutes’ walk from the Tower of London. Cold stone on the outside, you go inside and – at least for these two days – the interior becomes unexpectedly alive with activity and light; dazzling citrine colours and lilac-candy smells; and hundreds of people, all smiling, greeting each other in dozens of languages, some with laughter, some with more serious tones. All showing respect to one another. As eyes and ears adjust, more details emerge. This is a diverse collection of spaces, of actors and audiences. On one stage, closest to the main entrance, is a well-known TV presenter. I already know his voice from programs seen back home in Korea, broadcast on BBC Earth: knowledgeable, passionate, sincere. Brilliant even. Here, he is lamenting and challenging the illegal slaughter of migrant birds in Europe, a story he has told before on social media. My eyes drift left; there, painted with the kind of detail expected in a field-guide are many of the same migrant bird species that he is describing – depicted not in “Nature”, but instead with an impressively original sweep of the brush among the burnt remains of a human migrant camp in Calais. Lives and landscapes destroyed because they could be; erased in order to deter, to conceal, to make a statement, to assuage concerns and fears. And on another stage, less than 30m away, one more vital part of the very same story brought together by Lush: a group of human migrants, recounting the kindnesses they received and the wrongs done to them as they journeyed north, to make a better life for themselves and for their families. One of dozens of presentations over the two days, all of which helped raise awareness about (non-human) animal and human rights, LGBT rights, womens’ rights: our rights.
And this, as we have written before on this blog (and as I argue in a still-unpublished book that took me almost two years to write, “The Unstoppable Tide“) is really what lies at the very heart of conservation. As Lush , the most ethically-driven company that I have ever come across, made explicit in this amazing Summit, conservation is about respecting the ecological, emotional, moral and intellectual connections that bind every single one of us together. No-one, and no organisation or company is perfect. But all of us – including everyone who supports Birds Korea – need to recognise and shout out loud that conservation is about good lives well-lived; it is about expanding our own sphere of concern, each of us, to aspire beyond the division of “Us” and “Other”, so that more of us can make a genuinely better life for ourselves, for our families, and for life – as expressed gloriously all around us through tens of millions of species and billions of human lives, each and every one of which is connected. All humans – without exception – come not from some town or nation or political party, but instead directly and intimately from our own mothers and fathers. This, like our own uniqueness, we all share. And recognising this, we also all need to take the next step, and recognise that like our parents, we are all also connected to a much greater whole. This, really, is the only understanding that can help to build solid bridges between peoples, that can challenge the threat of war and the omnipresence of cruelty, that can result in the conservation of species and their habitats – here in Korea and everywhere else in the world.
What an amazing opportunity, to be part of a meeting like this. Thank you, Lush and thank you, Charlie Moores; both for arranging the invite and for being who you are and doing what you do
The city passes by…
Inside: expressing “migration” at the Lush Summit. In a world that supports 7.5 billion people and more than 30 million species, what does the word “migration” mean to you?
Lush with TV presenter and skilled conservation advocate Chris Packham (on the right, in green)…”Respect”.
Ruth Peacey…raw, honest intensity. No surprise then that she was nominated Birdwatch magazine readers’ Conservation Hero of the Year at the end of last year
A quieter moment at the Lush Summit: Ruth Peacey (far left) talks with Dr Ruth Tingay, one of the UK’s (world’s?) outstanding conservationists, working to reduce the illegal persecution of raptors and Dr Rob Sheldon, one of the key actors in helping to bring the Sociable Lapwing back from the brink of extinction – whom I last met in Gomso Bay back in 2010 or 2011, before travelling together to Indonesia for a meeting on the conservation of the Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper
Charlie Moores (centre) – my genuinely impressive brother. He is one of the four co-founders of Birds Korea. He was also the initiator of Talking Naturally and one of the original Birders Against Wildlife Crime. Now an Audio Producer with Lush – here he is introducing a group of activists invited to the Lush Summit to raise awareness of the increasingly terrible problems caused by the Fukushima nuclear meltdown in Japan
Brilliant Fukushima activists with Mark Constantine (in blue): Lush co-founder and CEO, bird expert and genuinely visionary conservationist
Hard to imagine? A shampoo bottle made entirely out of high-quality shampoo… with no plastic container, and with contents that are entirely vegetarian (NEVER tested on non-human animals). This is why companies like Lush really can make a difference in everyone’s lives…
And to close: Charlie Moores, one of the four Birds Korea co-founders, here at the WWT London Wetlands Centre (February 2018). Conservation really is about connections; it requires us to close the imagined gap between “us” and “other” – and to focus instead on that which connects all of us