Episode #25: Jonathon Porritt – Calling time on unsustainable wealth creation

12 March 2019

Jonathon Porritt

In this episode, I talk to Jonathon Porritt, co-founder of Forum for the Future.

Jonathon has been one of the most respected faces of the environmental movement for nearly forty years. He was formerly chairman of the government’s Sustainable Development Commission, director of Friends of the Earth and co-chair of the Green Party.

In this interview, we talk about what he learned through his decades in the environmental movement about what works and what doesn’t. We talk about the hopeful signs we have in front of us to balance against the immense size of the task ahead. 

For me, it was a huge privilege to have this conversation with Jonathon, whose sage words I would often watch on BBC Question Time as a youngster, passionately concerned for the future of the world, nodding my head as he found the perfect words time and time again. He still has a huge amount to say, and I think you’ll get a lot from this conversation.

Show notes

What did the world look like to the young Jonathon when he left school and looked ahead to adult life? (1:38)

What was it that first influenced Jonathon in the direction of environmental issues? (2:44)

Early experiences as a teacher of English and Drama (3:31)

What took Jonathon to the political route in those early stages of becoming an activist? (5:08)

The challenges when Jonathon arrived at Friends of the Earth (6:46)

What Jonathon learned about what works and what doesn’t during his time at Friends of the Earth (9:10)

The importance of using science properly (13:40)

The founding of Forum for the Future – what was the driver and the original vision? (15:48)

How Forum has evolved over the years (18:20)

Which are the proudest achievements of the environmental movement that we could learn from? (22:16)

The challenges that lie ahead – the focus on climate change, why it’s the hardest problem we’ve faced, but there are shafts of light to feed hope (25:38)

What are the current trends in terms of population growth? (30:45)

What chances to reverse the way climate change is being held hostage in the US by political polarisation? (34:04)

Is there any scope to change incentives for businesses to favour the long-term rather than the obsessively short-term? (38:33)

Jonathon’s personal purpose (42:21)

Advice Jonathon would give to his younger self (43:01)

Impressive change makers Jonathon has been inspired by (44:23)

A habit Jonathon would like to change (45:37)

Books that had an impact on Jonathon’s thinking (46:29)

Advice to young people that want to make a difference to the world (47:22) 


Jonathon on twitter https://twitter.com/jonathonporritt

Jonathon’s website http://www.jonathonporritt.com

The World We Made, Jonathon Porritt https://www.amazon.co.uk/World-We-Made-McKays-Story/dp/0714863610/

People Mentioned

Wangari Maathai – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wangari_Maathai

Petra Kelly - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petra_Kelly

Books Mentioned

Blueprint for Survival, Edward Goldsmith https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blueprint-Survival-Penguin-Specials/dp/0140522956/

Small is Beautiful, EF Schumacher https://www.amazon.co.uk/Small-Beautiful-Economics-People-Mattered/dp/0099225611/

Prosperity without Growth, Tim Jackson https://www.amazon.co.uk/Prosperity-without-Growth-Foundations-Tomorrow/dp/1138935417/