2020 - has it flown or has it dragged? We started this year feeling inspired: full of energy and anticipation for what it was to bring for nature and the climate. It was dubbed THE year for action. Unfortunately, we've seen lives turned upside down and plans change. However, while the political landscape has looked rather different than expected, we still saw some amazing successes for RSPB campaigns and the wider movement this year.
Before we share these stories and end the year on a high as best we can, we want to take a moment to acknowledge all of you. This year has taken an incredible toll on everyone's lives in varying ways and we recognise that some of you are dealing with a lot of unexpected changes and pressure. We are all extremely grateful for your support throughout such a turbulent period - a period in which it's become more clear than ever just how important nature is to everybody's wellbeing.
That said, we understand that not all of you have had the same access to nature during lockdown. This has become a real cornerstone of our campaigning: a call for a world in which you can all benefit from the joys of seeing nature in your local area and we look forward to working alongside all of you to fight for nature's recovery in 2021.
Revive Our World Launch
We had planned to launch a campaign for nature’s recovery in May, but the pandemic changed everything. Finally, in September, we launched Revive Our World: our big campaign to get political action for nature in 2020-21.
In just two weeks we saw nearly 70,000 people sign the petition for legally binding targets for nature - the first step to revive our world. This far exceeded our expectations, when we were aiming for 100,000 over the whole year! It's a testament to all who signed up to see the campaign covered in some of our major broadsheet newspapers, including The Guardian, The Observer and The Independent, and even featuring on a Channel 4 news special. It also prompted an urgent debate in the House of Lords where MP Zac Goldsmith committed to phasing out peat burning. Not to mention, that following the launch we also saw 31 mayors and local authorities across England declare nature emergencies and add their voices to the campaign.
There is so much still to come next year, from elections and new laws in the UK, to global summits for biodiversity and climate with lots of opportunities for you to fight for nature. Keep a look out for more in the new year!
The Time Is Now - Virtual Mass Lobby
In 2019 more than 12,000 people took part in a Climate Coalition mass lobby of parliament to call for urgent action on climate change and the natural environment. This year, we not only took to Zoom but we saw more people turn up and lobby their MPs in a virtual mass lobby: over 13,000 people lobbied over 250 MPs with some people even Zooming straight into Parliament!
Thanks to the brave and determined people who called on their MPs, we were able to show the government that the people want a healthier future, with people, climate and nature at its core.
Scottish Government to license grouse shooting
In a really positive step forward, the Scottish Government recently announced that they will be introducing measures to license grouse shooting and promote environmentally friendly land management practices associated with the industry: they've even committed £250 million to peatland restoration over the next ten years. As you likely know, recovering our upland habitats is a huge priority for RSPB and we couldn't have achieved this without your constant support.
Anne McCall, Director of RSPB Scotland said 'We believe that what has been announced today is supported by an overwhelming weight of evidence and is entirely proportionate. We are keen to work with the Scottish Government and other stakeholders to quickly bring about an effective licensing system, to help address the nature and climate crises…'.
Green Recovery Wales Festival
In July, RSPB Cymru and partner NGOs hosted Green Recovery Wales, a virtual festival of farming, food and nature. Hundreds of you tuned in to the four day event, taking part in family activities and webinars and joining live discussions with young environmentalists, politicians and experts on land management, wildlife restoration and a green recovery. Important stakeholders from across the environment and farming sectors got involved, with messages from Iolo Williams, Sophie Howe and RSPB Cymru's Director, Katie-Jo Luxton.
In a live 'Question Time' discussion, members from all political parties discussed what it'll take to secure a green recovery in Wales. It was great to hear broad support for nature friendly farming and a cross-government, inclusive approach to a recovery in Wales. Huw Irranca-Davies (Labour MS) called for all parties to explicitly commit to reversing biodiversity decline and Andrew RT Davies (Conservative MS) advocated for the public to have a voice in the green recovery journey.
We'd like to thank everybody who watched and took part in the event and we hope that some of the ideas put forward at the event will help Wales lead the way in forging a green recovery
Agricultural Bill becomes law in England
For years you have been supporting us to campaign for an Agricultural Bill that will reform agricultural practices and ensure that farmers are supported to farm in harmony with nature. This year, we finally saw the bill reach Royal Assent, meaning it is now an Act of Parliament. Congratulations to all of you for this achievement!
At the beginning of this journey, 20,000 of you (!) endorsed the principle of public money for public goods in response to the Health and Harmony consultation. This action played a huge part in getting it on the agenda and in the minds of decision makers. As a result, the government have promised to enhance the environment through sustainable farming practices with public money being used to enrich wildlife habitats, prevent flooding and improve air and soil quality.
Northern Ireland's successful Revive Our World launch
In Northern Ireland, Revive Our World secured fantastic media coverage across radio, television, in print and online, holding Stormont to account for its failure to meet biodiversity targets.
Following the successful launch, RSPB NI Director, Joanne Sherwood joined the Head of Environmental Sustainability at Business in the Community for a live TEDxStormont Countdown discussion, a global initiative to champion climate action. She was further featured on Radio Ulster, Cool FM and the Mark Patterson Show on Radio Foyle, while John Martin, our Head of Policy and Advocacy was also interviewed on Radio Ulster during their Good Morning show.
Your support in signing this petition has been crucial in securing this coverage and getting this message in front of decision makers - you have made it clear that we need more than just promises if we are to recover nature and tackle climate change. Thanks to all of you who signed up.
As you can see, some really fantastic steps forward and it's all thanks to your ongoing commitment to speaking up for nature. We wish you all the best for the Christmas period and we're excited to continue campaigning with you in 2021!
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