“As Sophocles and Shakespeare and Moliere and Ibsen and Brecht wrote plays as interventions into the major political crises of their worlds and of their time, so we now need our writers to record and reflect this probably biggest ever global challenge but, more than that, to help us understand what to do about it, how to prevent climate disruption from destroying so much that the west, the east, the north, the south have struggled to create over millennia. The time has always been now.”
David Lan, writer, producer, and former Artistic Director of The Young Vic Theatre
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9 November 2022:
Letters to the Earth takes voices of the vulnerable to COP27
Letters to the Earth - Leave no one behind…
Egypt | Sharm El Sheikh | 9 November 2022 - As the world meets at COP27 this week, and Italy’s new government leaves hundreds of refugees stranded off its coast, a team of UK-based creative campaigners from Letters to the Earth (LTTE) have travelled to Sharm El Sheikh, bearing heartfelt letters from those most impacted by climate change in a bid to put climate justice and adaptation at the forefront of policy negotiations.
Last week, the LTTE team began their journey to COP27 with a visit to Refugee House in Calais, France, where co-founder Kay Michael and documentary filmmaker Syed Jazib Ali met with Syrian, Eritrean and Iranian asylum seekers. This is their halfway house as they wait to cross the border into the UK.
These women have fled their homelands where extreme weather, drought, famine and conflict are rife, in search of a better life for them and their children. As vulnerable people on the frontlines, they are travelling brutal and dangerous journeys. With climate change-related migration set to spike to a predicted 1.2 billion by 2050 (Institute for Economics & Peace, 2020), LTTE is appealing to world leaders to act in time to avert such a catastrophic climate refugee crisis.
Selected letters from individuals will be read live and distributed amongst the delegates in the conference’s Blue Zone. The intention is to encourage a personal connection with those most vulnerable to climate breakdown.
Kay Michael says, “Global conferences that determine the future of life on earth must be inclusive of all vulnerable communities, especially women and children.
This is why, for COP27, Letters to the Earth is amplifying the stories of those on the frontlines who are often excluded from these spaces – the displaced, the young, the indigenous. We want to make sure they are heard. We must acknowledge those in need and listen to their voices. And then we must take them into consideration in policy creation.”
Attending COP27 by invitation from Julie’s Bicycle and the Climate Heritage Network and as part of the new CultureCOP programme, Letters to the Earth will have a curation of their letters read to delegates at the Resilience Hub on the theme of ‘Culture and Resilience’ on 14th November. Alongside a letter reading from Calais, the curation will also include written letters from South Africa, the Caribbean, and indigenous communities from the Amazon, Chile and Peru. Letters from young people from around the world will also be displayed at the Youth & Children’s Pavillion’s first edition throughout the conference.
Co-Founder of Refugee House, Patricia McDwye, said, “Refugees are people who have had no other choice but to flee their homelands because they have become hostile and inhabitable environments. We call our refugee women and children our guests – they have many lessons to teach us about their customs and heritage. They are not just refugees; they are human beings and therefore our brothers and sisters in humanity. I’m so pleased that our guests have had an opportunity to express themselves through their Letters to the Earth.”
An Eritrean refugee reading her letter in her mother tongue Amharic, said, “Thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak. Those who you are hearing from are suffering a lot of hardships, but the world cannot see them. We will be heard.”
LTTE’s campaign strikes a chord as the pressure for financing the loss and damage of climate breakdown takes centre stage at this year’s COP. “We all share this world. And more than anything, we need empathy and compassion to navigate the climate crisis” said documentary filmmaker Syed Jazib Alii.
Youtube of full documentary (3 mins) here.
Campaign pictures here.
The Clima PR
W/A: +27 76 503 7895
NOTES TO EDITORS:
About Letters to the Earth
Since the spring of 2019, the creative campaigning organisation, Letters to the Earth has been receiving thousands of letters from people all around the world in response to the planetary emergency. People have expressed their hopes and fears for the future, their love and connection to the Earth and their visions for a better world.
The letters include submissions from children as young as 3 years old, parents, teachers, renowned climate scientists, journalists, activists, indigenous elders, politicians, business leaders, writers such as Ben Okri, actors such as Mark Rylance and artists such as Yoko Ono. The award-winning book Letters to the Earth; Writing to a Planet in Crisis, is published by HarperCollins in the UK and US and introduced by Dame Emma Thompson and illustrated by Jackie Morris. It chronicles for the first time how humanity is processing the impacts of climate change and ecological breakdown.
In 2020 Letters to the Earth was nominated Best Campaign by Julie’s Bicycle’s Creative Green Awards, and in 2022 won the inaugural Global Dimensions Teachers Choice Award for their ‘deeply moving and motivating’ educational and community resources.
About Refugee House (Maria Skobtsova House)
Maria Skobtsova House, in the heart of Calais, offers sanctuary and hospitality to vulnerable refugees, in the spirit of Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, and Maria Skobtsova, ‘Saint Mary of Paris’, a Russian Orthodox Saint and Martyr who took care of Russian refugees, migrants, the homeless and Jewish people in Paris during the last century. It is in this spirit that they offer refugees a place of sanctuary, support and love. Their guests are amongst the most vulnerable from within the Calais refugee community, a particular welcome being offered currently to women and women with children.
Culture COP is an emerging space that stands firm in the belief of the power of culture to transform and heal our planet and humanity. Culture COP calls on the world's arts and culture makers to work together to co-create solutions for a just future where every living being thrives and humanity lives in harmony with the environment. The inaugural CultureCOP in Egypt launches at Goals House on Thursday 10th November with events running at the Sharm El Sheik Museum, New York Times Hub and Hope House spanning live music, readings, conversations, ceremonies and workshops.
About Julie’s Bicycle
Julie’s Bicycle is a UK-based pioneering non-profit, mobilising the arts and culture sector to take action on the climate and ecological crisis. JB is presenting an afternoon of dynamic talks, performances and live readings as part of the Resilience Hub Arts, Culture, Antiquities & Heritage theme at COP27 on 14th November.
Drawing on examples of arts-led and creative practice, this session showcases the depth, range and potential of creative climate practices to reimagine and shape resilience on the ground. Through activism, artistry, or creativity, these responses highlight the potential of arts and creative industries to bring diverse perspectives together to innovate, change narratives, and mobilise climate action.
COP27 Resilience Hub’s Arts, Culture, Antiquities & Heritage theme is led by International Indigenous Women’s Forum (FIMI), Climate Heritage Network (CHN) and Julie’s Bicycle.
About the Resilience Hub
The Resilience Hub is designed to connect and inspire people across business, civil society, academia and government to collaborate and scale up action that builds resilience to the impact of climate change and makes communities around the world safer, healthier and more just.
We are motivated by the urgent need to increase the level of ambition and finance given to building resilience, particularly for the world’s most vulnerable populations, and placing locally informed, equitable solutions centre stage in the run up to and during COP.
Following a successful inaugural Hub at COP26 in Glasgow, the Resilience Hub is returning as a dynamic, inclusive virtual and physical space at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh in November 2022.
About Re-Earth Initiative
Letters to the Earth can also be found at COPs’ inaugural Youth and Children Pavilion which will be showcasing letters written by young people from around the world in collaboration with the Re-Earth Initiative, a global network of youth activists.
REI, formerly We The Planet, was officially launched on April 22, 2020, with its successful Earth Day digital campaign (#MyChangeOurChange) through climate change commitment, impacting over 300,000 people worldwide through their partnerships and content. A global climate change organisation created in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Re-Earth’s initiatives are digitally accessible to all, taking into account its core values of 'Inclusiveness, Accessibility and Unity
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25 October 2021:
firstname.lastname@example.org Beverley Luckings T +44 747 291 6283
email@example.com Maria Francesca Giardini + T +39 328 8872 66757
firstname.lastname@example.org Jon Slack T +44 77477 32995
Download link to press images (credit: Tania Hoser)
Link to Letters available for publication
Vivienne Westwood and Laura Whitmore release their ‘Letters to the Earth’ alongside children and business leaders as COP26 begins
On Monday 25th October, Love Island presenter Laura Whitmore leads a release of dozens of new videos and ‘Letters to the Earth’ in the final countdown to COP, in which she expresses her commitment to ‘help [Earth] thrive’
Whitmore filmed her Letter at Shakespeare’s Globe alongside fashion designer and activist Dame Vivienne Westwood, Skins star Freya Mavor, Booker Prize-Winning author Ben Okri, Chief Responsible Investment Officer at Aviva Investors Steve Waygood, Founder of Riverford Guy Singh-Watson, climate justice activist Daze Aghaji, and Britain’s Got Talent Semi-Finalists SOS From the Kids.
30 notable business and philanthropic figures including Bevis Watts CEO, Triodos UK and Nigel Pocklington CEO, Good Energy also add their Letters and messages to the campaign
- Videos and Letters are being released each day before the UN Climate Conference COP26 to inspire people everywhere to add their voice in a global call for ambitious climate action from world leaders
The 2-year Letters to the Earth campaign has so far received thousands of letters from notables such as Yoko Ono, poet Kae Tempest, actor Mark Rylance, writer Rob Cowen, Potsdam Institute Head of Earth Systems Analysis Professor Stefan Rahmstorf, policy expert Farhana Yamin, indigenous activists in the Amazon and Philippines, as well as children, teachers, nurses and journalists
Shakespeare’s Globe has played host to a day of filmed performances and readings of ‘Letters to the Earth’, featuring the young and the old, faces from TV and world-respected activists alongside business leaders and investors.
The release of videos from 25th October on the Letters to the Earth social media platforms and select media outlets will provide a countdown in the final week before the opening day of COP26, the UN Climate Conference:
Monday 25th October, 9am: Laura Whitmore
Tuesday 26th October, 9am: Steve Waygood
Wednesday 27th October, 9am: Ben Okri, Charlotte Jarvis, Mirabella Okri
Thursday 28th October, 9am: Guy Singh-Watson
Friday 29th October, 9am: Vivienne Westwood
Saturday 30th October, 9am: Freya Mavor
Sunday 31st October, 9am: SOS From the Kids Choir
Monday 1st November, 9am: Daze Aghaji
The recent business focus of the campaign, to invite CEOs and business leaders to write their own Letters to the Earth, has been made possible through a joint initiative with Business Declares and Vivobarefoot, whose CEO (Chief Ecosystems Officer) Galahad Clark was the first to call on other CEOs to take part. Other CEOs who have since joined include Martin Bunch (Bates Wells), Steve Macklin (PlanetMark) and Hugo Tagholm (Surfers Against Sewage).
Since 2019, Letters to the Earth has inspired thousands, including children as young as 3 through to great-grandparents, scientists, politicians, teachers, nurses, writers and artists such as Yoko Ono, to put pen to paper and express their fears, visions and hopes for the future, in response to the climate and nature crisis. People worldwide have been sharing their messages via text, picture, song, drawing and video using the hashtag #LettersToTheEarth.
The campaign’s release of Letters from 25th October, one week before COP26, aims to amplify calls to action worldwide for people everywhere to speak up for ambitious action on climate change. People are invited to write and share their own Letters and messages by video, on social media and by post until 12th November so as to be heard during this historic political moment.
All Letters received will be distributed en masse and performed and read at events during the Conference. Delegates, business leaders, indigenous leaders, youth activists and Glaswegian locals are all invited to take part, with many more Letters being read to camera for release during the conference.
CONFIRMED ACTIVITIES AT COP26
On 5th November, 3 - 4.30pm, at The Brigaitt in Glasgow, Letters to the Earth will host a public performance reading of a curated text of Letters with special guests to be announced, followed by the opportunity for the audience to write their own Letter and an open mic. Bookings here.
On 7th November, in collaboration with campaign partners Grounded and Vivobarefoot, Letters to the Earth will host a workshop for leaders across sectors, including a group of indigenous leaders from delegations including The Mother Earth and Minga Indigina. The event will take place at the former Bank of Scotland building, which is taken over by Hub Culture & Bill McDonough as a ‘hub for innovators to heal the climate while designing for sustainability.’
More activities to be announced in the coming days
COP26 represents a decisive moment for the global community. The current commitments of every nation participating in COP26 are significantly inadequate to stabilise the temperature increase between 1.5C and 2C, with unconditional pledges and targets that would result in warming of between 2.7-3.1°C above pre-industrial levels. Countries are under intense pressure to show courageous leadership and dramatically step up their pledges in order to stick to the Paris Agreement boundaries.
Letters can be sent to the campaign for COP26 via the website or by post to:
Letters to the Earth
Kelburn, County Centre
“Together we are building a new story. One where everyone everywhere is inspired to dream big and take courageous action to make the world greener, fairer and more resilient. As the UK takes up its presidential role on the global stage at COP26, we’re excited to bring together a diverse cast of change-makers on Shakespeare’s Globe stage. From within this national and historic institution we aim to raise our national ambition on climate change. The future needs us all.”
Kay Michael, Co-Founding Director Letters to the Earth
“The word economy means 'household management'. Earth is our home, so on a global scale economy means sustainability. We don't have that. We have no future. We have a financial system based on perpetual Trade War & Competition… True economy is based on the value of land. "Land belongs to NO ONE””
“The time for doubt has passed. The time for disbelief has passed. The time for action is now and we must all take it if we are to change the future for the better. But still so many of us don’t know what to do. We need people to help us, guide us and give us hope. Letters to the Earth is an act of collaboration, guidance and hope. We’re so proud and grateful to be a part of it.”
Michelle Terry, Artistic Director Shakespeare’s Globe
“Letters to the Earth shows that while the climate and nature crisis can be overwhelming, there is power in writing and in working together to make our hopes real. We are in this together and each of us have a responsibility for the generations to come.”
If you're inspired to write and share your own Letter to the Earth, head on over to our Letters page today, and invite friends, family and your community to take part.
WRITE YOUR LETTER
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26th Jan 2021:
Phone: 07814919928, 07747732995
Coming 18 February: Letters to the Earth paperback takes on pandemic and climate in critical year
On 18th February, HarperCollins will publish the Letters to the Earth: Writing to a Planet in Crisis paperback bringing together over 100 letters - from children, parents, scientists, nurses, artists and politicians worldwide - in response to the combined crises of the climate and ecological emergency, and the coronavirus pandemic.
With an introduction by Emma Thompson, there are letters responding to Covid-19 from Booker Prize-winning author Ben Okri and Skin’s star Freya Mavor, plus contributions from Yoko Ono, actor Mark Rylance, poet Kae Tempest, author Laline Paull, illustrator of The Lost Words Jackie Morris and environmental writer Jay Griffiths.
The letters are gathered into key themes: Love, Loss, Emergence, Hope and Action. Reflecting on the last year, Ben Okri writes that we are at the ‘beginning of an age of catastrophes’, and that we must listen to the earth’s ‘silent wisdom’ in order to live again. While Freya Mavor in her letter invites us to ‘Be brave. Be still. Be kind.’
“This book takes on the conversation we need to have in 2021,” said Kay Michael, co-editor of the book. “From a callout that resulted in over a 1000 letters flooding our inbox, it asks: How do we find the words to process what’s happening to the planet?
“From the letters we’ve seen it's clear that people care and are ready to act. The response to the pandemic shows us that change is possible.”
Emma Thompson, writing in the forward for the Letters to the Earth anthology, commented: “The generation below mine is different. I feel it and I read it in these letters. Read this book and pass it on. Plugging in that energy will recharge even the most tired of batteries. Hand on your passion for the planet to the next person and never, ever give in.”
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2nd Sept 2020:
Young People Call on MPs to Back the CEE Bill:
“We are waiting for change before it’s too late”
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20th April 2020:
Letters to the Earth invites the world to share their
‘Letters of Love in a Time of Crisis’ this Earth Day
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1st April 2020:
Letters to the Earth launches ‘Letters of Love in a Time of Crisis’
in response to COVID-19
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14th August 2019:
HarperCollins to publish Letters to the Earth
as campaign goes international
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19th April 2019:
‘Day of Love’ at Oxford Circus with special performances
from Emma Thompson, Lee Ross and Paapa Essiedu
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12th April 2019:
Letters to the Earth teams up with
Youth Strike 4 Climate at Oxford Circus
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5th April 2019:
‘End of the F**king World’ star Alex Lawther reads one of
1,000 Letters to the Earth being presented at
50 global arts venues on Friday 12 April
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20th March 2019:
Letters To The Earth - a nationwide response to the climate emergency
backed by Royal Court, Shakespeare’s Globe & National Theatre Wales
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