the environmentalist Power List 2014
Readers vote for the people who are helping organisations better manage environmental impacts or who have been influential in raising awareness
The inaugural environmentalist powerlist reveals the individuals our readers believe are the most influential in helping organisations better manage their environmental impacts or who have had a big influence on raising environment issues up the business and policy agendas.
Readers voted online and via Twitter, and the top 10 is a mix of people, from those working to encourage better use of resources and improve business practices, such as Wrap chief executive Liz Goodwin and Mike Barry at Marks & Spencer, to those, like broadcaster Sir David Attenborough and Forum for the Future founder Jonathon Porritt, who have worked tirelessly to elevate interest in the natural environment and the need for sustainable development.
Liz Goodwin became chief executive at Wrap in 2007. A chemist by background with a PhD in chemical physics, Goodwin held a number of technical and production-related roles with ICI and Zeneca before moving into the environmental field. She joined Wrap in 2001 as director of its materials programme. Since becoming CEO, Goodwin has shifted the focus of the organisation to one that is helping to deliver the economic benefits of a more circular economy. Goodwin says her aim is to make a difference by working with others to help make the UK economy more circular.
She comments: “I want to say a huge thank-you to the readers of the environmentalist who voted for me in the 2014 powerlist. I’m especially pleased, as it’s a publication I hold in high regard – but that’s not the only reason. Getting this recognition is a real credit to the work of my colleagues at Wrap and our partners.
“It’s clear, the pressure on global resources means there is a pressing need to influence organisations on how they manage their environmental impacts, and the most powerful way to do that is to be able to show the big economic gains from using resources more efficiently. That really builds the business case. We’ve seen a seismic shift in the UK over the past decade in the way the UK thinks about these things, whether that’s increasing recycling rates or cutting food waste. Looking ahead, Wrap will continue offering its expertise and practical know-how, helping to create a robust circular economy.
With population growth, shortages of supply, climate change and dwindling materials, all at a time when the financial recovery is not complete, safeguarding the future is dependent on a culture of being more resourceful. The circular economy fits with all of these. There are solutions to these challenges; we need to embrace them.
“I’m glad you support my ambitions of encouraging positive change. Together, we can make a real difference to the benefit of organisations, the economy and the environment.”
Sir David Attenborough
Naturalist and broadcaster David Attenborough has spent five decades exploring rare wildlife in its natural habitat, having joined the BBC in 1952 as a trainee producer and making the landmark series, Life on Earth, in 1979. Attenborough was knighted in 1985 and is a trustee of the British Museum and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, as well as a Fellow of the Royal Society.
Attenborough is currently on location, but he set out his thoughts on the impact of human society on the natural world in the final episode of his State of the planet series, which was first broadcast in 2000, saying: “The future of life on earth depends on our ability to take action. Many individuals are doing what they can, but real success can only come if there’s a change in our societies and our economics and in our politics. I’ve been lucky in my lifetime to see some of the greatest spectacles that the natural world has to offer. Surely we have a responsibility to leave for future generations a planet that is healthy, inhabitable by all species.”
Anne-Marie Warris, MIEMA, CEnv and Fellow of the Energy Institute, has more than 25 years’ experience in sustainability. She is chair of both the ISO sub-committee (TC207/SCI) responsible for environment management systems and the ISO joint task coordination group, as well as chair of the UK emissions trading group. She is also ISO observer at the IMO marine environmental protection committee. Having spent much of her career at Lloyd’s Register and LRQA, Warris now runs her own consultancy, ecoreflect. Its aim is to continue to explore and understand “eco” – economy, ecology, ecosystems – and reflect on the links and connectivity that govern the way the world works.
She told the environmentalist: “Personal consistency in behaviour, while helping to improve consistent environmental outcomes is important to me. To be consistent I need to lead by example, so am involved voluntarily with a very exciting wave energy concept, CCell, which is aimed at small-scale generation. I also have my various ISO roles and my position at the UK emissions trading group. And I am also in the process of building an energy-efficient house. Professionally, I believe voluntary, international, consensus-based standards are critical to helping us achieve a better environmental outcome.”
The UK’s first Green MP, Caroline Lucas, has represented Brighton Pavilion since 2010, having been elected, in 1999, as the first Green MEP in the UK, representing southeast England. She is now a member of the House of Commons’ environmental audit committee. Lucas was voted the UK’s most ethical politician in 2007, 2009 and 2010 by readers of the Observer.
Speaking to the enviromentalist about her hopes for the “greener” future, Lucas highlights three areas of activity: “Get together – today digital media is used with increasing flair to get heard globally and instantly. Whole movements are being born from even the simplest of ‘hashtag’ campaigns. Combine efforts – more voices make a louder noise. We should work together much more than we do. Organisations can make a huge difference alone but, where we combine our efforts, our influence and lobbying power grows. Think positive – more and more organisations are seeking to work in a greener and more sustainable way, reducing their own carbon footprint. Next, they need to shift from simply offsetting negative impacts to promoting an actively positive approach to greening their work.”
A former teacher at a west London school, Jonathon Porritt became involved in environmental issues in 1974, and was appointed director at Friends of the Earth in 1984, a position he held until 1990. In 1996, he was a founder director at Forum for the Future, which he says remains “home base” in terms of his current activity, which ranges from advisory work to writing. His latest book, The world we made, was published in October 2013. He stood down as chair at the now defunct UK sustainable development commission in July 2009 after nine years providing high-level advice to government ministers. Porritt received a CBE in January 2000 for services to environmental protection.
Reflecting on what it means to work in sustainability, he says: “From time to time, I find myself asking, ‘why is all this still such hard work?’. We all know we have to learn to live more sustainably on this planet, and we all know that changing our ways need not be painful – in fact, it’s mostly very advantageous both from an economic and a quality-of-life perspective.
“The reality is that not enough people, as yet, are excited about that transition to more sustainable living, allowing politicians – especially this dreadful coalition government – to do as little as they think they can get away with.”
Ellen MacArthur shot to prominence in 2001 when, aged 24, she single-handedly sailed non-stop around the world in the Vendée Globe race. In 2004, she became the fastest person to circumnavigate the globe single-handed, having sailed more than 26,000 miles in just over 71 days.
MacArthur says her years at sea gave her a deep understanding of what it means to rely on a finite supply of resources. In September 2010, she launched the Ellen MacArthur Foundation with the goal of “accelerating the transition to a regenerative, circular economy”.
It works in the three areas of business, education and communication. MacArthur was knighted in 2005 and she received the Légion d’honneur from the French president in 2008.
Mike Barry is director of sustainable business at Marks & Spencer. He has responsibility for the firm’s high-profile strategy, Plan A, which was launched in 2007 and aims to help M&S become the world’s most sustainable major retailer.
His role involves ensuring sustainability is integrated with the commercial side of the business. He is also focused on embedding sustainability across the retailer’s global operations so that leadership teams have the skills and knowledge to implement Plan A, and engages with stakeholders so that M&S is “talking to the right scientists, pressure groups and policymakers” about the future.
Barry reports directly to the company’s chief executive, Marc Bolland. Barry is co-chair of the sustainability steering group at the Consumer Goods Forum, and a board member of both the World Environment Center and Business in the Community.
Professor Nicholas Stern
Former US vice-president Al Gore is best known in environmental circles for his Academy award-winning documentary film An inconvenient truth, which was released in 2006.
Gore was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1976, 1978, 1980 and 1982, and the Senate in 1984 and 1990. He served as the 45th vice-president from January 1993 to 2001. He controversially lost the 2000 presidential vote to George W Bush, winning the popular vote but losing the electoral college (“electors” in each state).
Gore now spends most of his time as chair of the Climate Reality Project, a non-profit organisation devoted to solving the climate crisis. Established in 2011, it was formed by merging the Alliance for Climate Protection and the Climate Project, which Gore had set up in 2006.
In 2007, Gore, together with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.