In spring 2019, COVID was invisible to you and me – as it lurked and waited for a strike. However, our BirdLife scientists and politicians knew it was there. They knew that deliberately disregarding a show for the integrity of nature as they willfully clear forests and invade spaces that should be left to their indigenous people would sooner or later take its zoonotic toll.
And here we are paying an unimaginable price in late autumn about 18 months later – more than 55 million cases, 1.4 million deaths and almost 16 million actively sick people in 215 countries worldwide – and on average we are increasing by well over 600,000 cases every day, almost 10,000 deaths .
In those halcyon days we were of course worried – the European and Central Asian partners of BirdLife were preparing for the early summer elections for the European Parliament and the subsequent election of a new European Commission and a new President. The influence of these politicians on nature, birds and biodiversity for good and for good is profound. So we have prepared for a fight to choose good people – people across Europe who would fight for themselves, once elected, to urgently address the existential crises of climate and biodiversity loss and our already good environmental laws and – better strengthen and enforce policies at EU level.
To start a focused, short-term campaign, we were thrilled to work with them LUSH fresh handmade cosmetics. With hundreds of stores across Europe LUSH has worked with us to raise awareness of the importance of voting in elections for candidates who would themselves work to protect nature. We called our campaign #IvoteNature and we stood in shop windows with catchy graphics and images of locally iconic nature and birds – shop staff enthusiastically explained the campaign to curious customers and reinforced the campaign with extensive advertising on social media. On Twitter alone, our hashtag was used over 22 million times – 28 BirdLife partners in 25 languages worked with their local LUSH partner to cast the vote for the outdoors – and when the dust settled, nature had a better turnout has increased dramatically than ever before, especially for MEPs committed to saving biodiversity, birds and the planet.
This growing zeitgeist led to the election of the greenest EU President and the greenest EU Commission of all time and later in autumn 2019 to the leading representatives of the EU Green Deal and the Commission, who advocate environmentally friendly action and sustainability like never before.
Of course, this wasn't the first rodeo for us LUSH. Just a few years earlier, they had come to the fore and helped us build a powerful coalition to successfully save Europe's key nature conservation laws from deadly weakening by the business-friendly Juncker Commission and help us mobilize over 500,000 citizens, to fight for her protection.
Well, fast forward to today and these gritty pandemic realities. We all know the devastating economic and social burden and the critical need to disrupt and control, mask, block, and isolate the spread of viruses.
Our partners at LUSHLike most businesses, they have faced store closures and unprecedented business interruptions. But like many companies, they'll stay open online for sure. So we propose that as well as that LUSH Families across Europe have worked to help us fight for nature and have made a profound difference in the process – we're doing the same for them. Your grandmother needs one Bath bomb for the holidays! You need a bath bomb!
Let us show our solidarity with these good people who have done so much to support nature and all of us. This fight to save our planet, our biodiversity and our birds is an uphill battle every day. If we are ever to be successful, we have to support one another.