Green Runners speak out at Restore Nature Now march

On Saturday 22 June, tens of thousands of people, including members of The Green Runners, marched peacefully in London demanding that the UK Government Restore Nature Now. Martin Elcoate was there and sent us this report from the front line.

On Saturday I heard messages of gloom, messages of hope, messages of unity, messages for all political parties. It was awesome to be part of such a wonderful collective at the Restore Nature March. I marched physically with The Green Runners and Champions 4 Earth – my running and sporting allies, and in my heart with the RSPB, Woodland Trust, National Trust and The Wildlife Trusts, organisations I’m also proud to be a member of.

While there were around 100,000 people there on the day, the number of charities there with huge memberships meant the actual people represented on the day stretched into the millions. Surely, with so many voices calling for urgent action, governments across the world need to listen?

It was a slow but tiring 3km through London, literally carrying the flag for The Green Runners. My Garmin recorded an “unproductive” 1 km an hour pace. Our flag and Green Runners badges caught the attention of others on the march, so there were plenty of opportunities to talk about our Pillars

A group of seven people holding banners reading 'Champions for Earth', 'The Green Runners' and 'Restore nature now' standing outside Downing Street in London. One is in a wheelchair wearing a Team GB top, the others are standing wearing sports clothes and sporting green runner badges.
Green Runners and Champions for Earth team up at the march

I was unprepared when Etienne Stott of C4E asked me to speak to the Water section on behalf of The Green Runners (the march was split into five themes: Woods, Water, Land, Air and Nature). I followed the rules, no swearing, no mention of specific political parties, and hopefully met the brief of introducing the crowd to The Green Runners. I might have gotten a bit shouty about sportswashing and definitely fulfilled my #HowWeSpeakOut pillar. Did I say I hate sportswashing & greenwashing

I just wish I was as eloquent as the speakers on the stage outside Parliament. Such inspiring speakers & heroes: Chris Packham, Megan Mccubbin, Dale Vince, Feargal Sharkey, et al. Thank you.

Chris Packham’s closing speech was powerful and inspiring. Here’s just some of it:

”Now is the summer of our discontent. Because we have a nightmare. Since Frankie Goes to Hollywood told us to Relax, 600 million birds across Europe have vanished, including 65% of our Cuckoos and 90% of our Nightingales. We have a nightmare. Since the Sex Pistols told us it was Anarchy in the UK, 80% of our butterflies have gone, 19% of our wildlife has been destroyed and one in six species are now in danger of extinction. We have a nightmare. Our rivers may be full of sewage but agriculture is the number one source of river pollution in the UK and responsible for 35% of our greenhouse gas emissions…

“But it doesn’t have to be like this. Because we can restore nature now, and we will restore nature now. We have the tools, we have the technologies, we’ve tried and tested the solutions and they work. So let’s make them work. I’ve got to tell you, it’s too late for dreaming, we’ve been dreaming and it hasn’t worked. It’s time to wake up and start acting. Doing things that will make a difference. Because there is no longer a choice. The simple truth is, this is our last stand for nature. Now is the time to stand up and start fighting for the life we love so much.”

Chris, who put so much effort into planning the march, is a legend. He bases his arguments in science, talks with passion and inspires action and hope.

My take away from Saturday is that, individually and collectively, we need to keep speaking up for nature and speaking out about the climate emergency. The two are so intertwined. For years it felt as though the major UK conservation groups were not bold enough about the climate and the role of Government. But over the last few years I’ve seen an increasing change in how they use their voice. They need our support more than ever.

My final shout out is for Etienne Stott who put in a shift and a half leading the Water section of the march. Another legend.

I hope to see you at the next Restore Nature Now march. Let’s make it bigger and louder.

What do we want?
Restore Nature!
When do we want it?

For more information I highly recommend this article by Charlie Gardner. He describes how our conservation orgs have arrived at this point in history.

For information about the lack of BBC news coverage, then I recommend this Guardian article.

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