There's three biogs below......
I was born in 1950. The next couple of decades flowed by effortlessly at Eton, Magdalen College, Oxford, and dossing around planting trees and farming in New Zealand and Australia.
I first got involved with environmental issues in 1974, at the same time as I became a teacher in a West London comprehensive, which I absolutely loved. Ten years later, I left teaching to become Director of Friends of the Earth where I stayed until 1991, just prior to the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 – which for me, was a life-changing experience.
In 1996, we set up Forum for the Future, which remains my ‘home base’ in terms of all the different things I do today. I’m also Co-Director of the Prince of Wales’s Business & Sustainability Programme, and was Chair of the UK Sustainable Development Commission between 2000 and 2009.
I got married in 1986, and we have two daughters (Eleanor, who has just graduated from Durham University, and Rebecca, who is about to go to Leeds University).
That’s about it – in a nutshell! Still hard at it 37 years on.
Biography – longer version
Jonathon Porritt, Co-Founder of Forum for the Future, is an eminent writer, broadcaster and commentator on sustainable development. Established in 1996, Forum for the Future is now the UK’s leading sustainable development charity, with 70 staff and over 100 partner organisations including some of the world’s leading companies.
In addition, he is Co-Director of The Prince of Wales's Business and Sustainability Programme which runs Seminars for senior executives around the world. He is a Non-Executive Director of Wessex Water, and of Willmott Dixon Holdings. He is a Trustee of the Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy, and is involved in the work of many NGOs and charities as Patron, Chair or Special Adviser.
He was formerly Director of Friends of the Earth (1984-90); co-chair of the Green Party (1980-83) of which he is still a member; chairman of UNED-UK (1993-96); chairman of Sustainability South West, the South West Round Table for Sustainable Development (1999-2001); a Trustee of WWF UK (1991-2005), a member of the Board of the South West Regional Development Agency (1999-2008).
He stood down as Chairman of the UK Sustainable Development Commission in July 2009 after nine years providing high-level advice to Government Ministers.
Jonathon was installed as the Chancellor of Keele University in February 2012.
His latest books are Capitalism As If The World Matters (Earthscan, revised 2007), Globalism & Regionalism (Black Dog 2008) and Living Within Our Means (Forum for the Future 2009).
Jonathon received a CBE in January 2000 for services to environmental protection.
Sustainable Development Commission (2000-2010)
Between 2000 and 2009, a big chunk of my working life was dedicated to the Sustainable Development Commission, as its first Chair.
The SDC was set up by Tony Blair to be the principal source of independent advice to all branches of government – and across the whole of the UK. It started small, but gradually established its role, and after the publication of 2005 Sustainable Development Strategy (which transferred responsibility for scrutiny of government performance from Defra to the SDC), it grew to an organisation of about 70 people.
It is now widely recognised that this put the UK out in front in terms of equivalent SD initiatives elsewhere in the world. And in a way that surprised a lot of people, both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown absolutely respected the independence of the Commission – though they didn’t always like the advice we gave them!
We were also allowed to reflect the full breadth of the SD agenda, with as much of a focus on education, health, the economy and governance issues as on climate change, land use, transport, food and farming and so on. And we did a huge amount of stuff on SD strategies, Departmental Action Plans, procurement, policy appraisal – and all sorts of geeky things that never saw the light of day!
The essence of the SDC’s success was an extraordinary combination of a really smart, highly-motivated Secretariat, and the Commissioners themselves – all experts in their own respective fields, all sharing a passion for sustainable development as ‘the central organising principle’ for the whole of government.
Sadly, the SDC is no more. It fell foul of the incoming Coalition Government’s ‘quango cull’ – or, to be more accurate, it fell foul of some deep ideological prejudices and a craven reluctance to expose government performance to any kind of independent scrutiny. As was subsequently confirmed when the Government also got rid of the Audit Commission.
I’m still spitting with rage one year on from this act of cretinous vandalism - as is still reflected in my blogs from 2010!
To get a better sense of what we were able to achieve through the SDC’s ten year span, you can still check out the archive website http://www.sd-commission.org.uk/