Greenest Leaders Ever?

With environmental leadership floundering at the very top of our “greenest government ever”, we thought it would be a good exercise to look at who has brought about some real green leadership through their work and vision.  Our Top 10 Environmental Leaders are as follows:

1. Tim Smit – founder of the Eden Project, which has become synonymous with raising awareness of green issues and inspiring young people

About 13 million visitors have come to the Eden Project, which cost £141m to build and is estimated to have generated £1.1bn for the West Country in extra tourist spending. Built to be as energy self sufficient as possible, the attraction provides environmental projects as well as allowing visitors to explore ideas and innovations that can be implemented to ensure we ‘tread lighter on the planet’.

Talking about the launch of The Eden Project “I thought that environmentalists were usually so boring, I wanted to do something that was so theatrical that people would have to suspend cynicism.”

2. Harriet Lamb – Fairtrade opened up the lives of producers on the other side of the world

Her team have helped build commercial partnerships that have resulted in sales growing from £30 million in 2001 to £1.32bn in 2011. This means that More than 7 million people in Africa, Asia and Latin America benefit from Fairtrade – farmers, farm workers, and their families. Fairtade this year launched a campaign requesting that the public sign a petition for smallholder farmers to get a better deal to hopefully spark debate about the matter at the summer G8 meeting. They achieved over 15,000 supporters.

“Times are tough for people in the UK right now. But across the developing world, times are desperate for smallholders, caught between rising food and fuel prices and a credit crunch that sees orders falling and access to loans becoming harder than ever”

3. Yvon Chouinard – founder of Patagonia who ‘walks the talk’

Just announced that his company will be launching an in-house venture fund named $20 million & Change for startups that try to make a positive impact in five areas: clothing, food, water, energy, and waste. Patagonie itself has challenged the status quo of retail

“…most of the damage we cause to the planet is the result of our own ignorance.”

4. David Attenborough – for an 87 year old, imagine if he was your granddad?

The famous face, or rather voice, of nature surely deserves his place amongst our green leaders. Playing a pivotal role in the regular depiction of nature on our TV screens, providing a window to the vast world we live in and the need to treasure it – his role in bringing to light the need for environmental action across the world has shown that he has been equally important outside of the small box in which we see him.

“We are a plague on the Earth…It’s not just climate change; it’s sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde. Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us”

5. Alistair McGowan – brought many faces to the environmental movement

Well-known ambassador of WWF, patron of charity Trees for Cities and 4-time host of the British Environment and Media Awards as well as many other environmental awards. Using his celebrity status to highlight issues in the environment. His involvement in the environment includes collaboratively purchasing a strip of land to prevent the development of a third runway at Heathrow airport, publicly backing Solar Power and developing an old coach house into an eco-friendly residential home.



On battling for the environment – “It’s the drip-drip effect of lots of small actions by individuals that has created the problem. And lots of small actions in reverse can help undo the problem.”

Other fantastic leaders who narrowly missed out on the top 5:

6. Andy Wood – MD of Adnams, low carbon brewery leading light in how to do best by community / environment

7. Kevin McCloud – eco-design champion in the design / built environment)

8. Paul Poleman – 5 levers for change at Unilver

9. Chris Packham – host of SpringWatch and exe CEO of BATS

10. Prince Charles – has the ability to change things and scale-up Duchy of Cornwall etc

These environmental leaders span many different professions from retail to the brewery trade and all are:

  •  Committed to creating change
  • Leading by example
  • Making sure that what they do is second to none.
  • Inspire millions of people through their work and vision
  • Happy to stand up and be counted – not hiding behind the parapet.

Governments take note – each of these leaders saw the need for change and acted on this.

Who will be the next environmental leaders of the future?