Greenhouse Pioneer: Jonathon Porritt, Environmentalist and Writer

We are delighted to talk to Jonathon Porritt, leading voice on sustainable development and one of the original pioneers of the ‘green’ movement.

Jonathon co-founded Forum for the Future and stays involved as Founder Director and Trustee. Prior to that he had key roles as Director of Friends of the Earth, co-chair of the Green Party and Chairman of the UK Sustainable Development Commission.

Jonathon is also an eminent writer, broadcaster and commentator on sustainable development and his latest book, The World We Made (Phaidon, £24.99), presents a vision of the world in 2050 that is connected, collaborative and genuinely sustainable.

Tell us, in 20 words or fewer, about Forum for the Future – what’s your mission?

Forum for the Future exists to inspire our Partners to design and deliver sustainability solutions, both within their own organisations and across society more broadly

What motivates you?

At long last, the world has woken up to the pressing challenges of sustainability. What gets me out of bed every morning is the opportunity to harness today’s incredible energy to make more good things happen.

What is your greatest achievement to date?

Hot on the heels of the Earth Summit in 1992, there were two organisations I was involved in setting up: Forum for the Future and The Prince of Wales’ Business and Sustainability Programme. Twenty years on, both are thriving, doing brilliant things – and that’s makes me feel good.

What are the challenges you face?

It’s incomprehensible to me that people aren’t as excited as hell at the prospect of innovating our way through to a genuinely sustainable world. Wake up, people – this is a brilliant world in the making!

What are you working on that’s getting you fired up and excited?

I brought out a new book at the end of last year, The World We Made, presenting a truly upbeat vision of our sustainable world in 2050. People seem to love it – so I want to get as many people as possible to see it.

Where do you want to take your work next?

The World We Made celebrates the power of sustainable innovation – and established a little website to give people a flavour of that innovation: FuturePin. Forum now has a fantastic opportunity to help launch an online global platform to reach out to millions of people, not just to the usual suspects.

What can we, as individuals, do to make a difference?

Come ON! If you don’t know the answer to that question, what are you reading this article for?! Most of it is just common sense. Beyond that, check out Do The Green Thing :

If you were Prime Minister for a day, what would be the first thing you’d do?

In a market economy, price rules. And without a price on every tonne of CO2, emissions will continue to rise, and the climate gets cooked. As Prime Minister, I’d announce a carbon tax of £30 per tonne to start at the end of 2015, rising by £5 per tonne for the next 10 years.

What’s the coolest project or product you’ve come across, and inspired you?

I’ve been a Trustee of Ashden for nearly a decade. The Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy is just the best energy awards scheme in the world. Brilliant people doing brilliant things – check out the website.

Can you recommend a life- or game-changing book for our readers?

If you’re not yet thrilled with the prospect of the innovation roller-coaster we’re just climbing onto, wrap your mind around Jeremy Rifkin’s The Third Industrial Revolution – which is, by the way, already under way!

What do you listen to when you’re cooking dinner?

I’m an unashamed Radio 4 junkie: it’s on all the time – apart from those occasional moments where the BBC turns itself into a Fox News lookalike by providing airtime to flat-earther climate deniers!

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

‘Life’s a precious gift. Live it to the full. And that applies all the more to lucky devils like you born into a comfortable middle-class family in one of the richest countries in the world.’ My Dad.

Wangari Maathai

Can you leave us with who’d be your Eco Hero?

As someone who has just given the Wangari Maathai Memorial Lecture at Kew Gardens, I obviously have to nominate Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya, eco-activist extraordinaire, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.