30 October 2018
Former Green Party leader and director of Friends of the Earth to champion population issue
Population Matters is delighted to announce the appointment of Jonathon Porritt CBE as our new President (1). Jonathon is currently founder-director of Forum for the Future, the UK’s leading sustainable development charity. He was director of Friends of the Earth between 1984 and 1991 and co-Chair of the Green Party between 1980 and 1983. Jonathon also chaired the UK Sustainable Development Commission for nine years from its inception in 2000.
Population Matters is a UK-based campaigning charity, working to achieve a sustainable human population, to protect the natural world and improve people’s lives. It promotes smaller families and sustainable consumption across the world, and supports universal access to family planning services, an end to gender discrimination and a convergence in living standards (2).
Jonathon has a longstanding commitment to the population cause, and has written and spoken regularly on the issue (3). He has been a patron of Population Matters for more than 10 years, alongside fellow patrons including Sir David Attenborough and Dame Jane Goodall (4). In 2014, Jonathon worked with fellow campaigner Robin Maynard on a project to encourage major environmental organisations, including WWF and the RSPB, to address population more purposefully (5). Robin Maynard subsequently joined Population Matters as director in 2017.
Jonathon Porritt says:
“I care as passionately about population issues today as I did when I joined the Green Party in 1974. World Population at that time was 4 billion; today it is 7.6 billion. And it’s on course to around 11 billion by the end of the century. These are the inconvenient statistics that the vast majority of politicians, commentators and NGOs continue to ignore – putting at risk everything we need to do to address accelerating climate change, collapsing ecosystems and global injustice the world over.”
Population Matters director Robin Maynard says:
“The great and good of the green movement – David Attenborough, Dame Jane Goodall, the late Professor Aubrey Manning and Chris Packham – have no hesitancy in accepting the incontrovertible, if inconvenient, truth that human population growth is a primary driver of our ecological and climate crisis; in harness with, but not separate from over-consumption. Jonathon has long been in the vanguard of the green movement and one of our patrons alongside those other luminaries. As our new President, he will be more directly engaged, bringing additional campaigning clout and communications nous that will have some of those in the mainstream green groups, who have lacked the courage and honesty to talk about human population honestly, quaking in their wellies! But he also brings a breadth of experience and strong contacts ensuring that challenge will tempered with decency and diplomacy.
“Whilst the role of President is an honorary one, it is also very much an active and influential one – and there is no doubt that Jonathon will be both active and influential in helping take Population Matters forward in a period when the old shibboleths and taboos that surrounded the issue are falling away in the face of increasing scientific evidence and support.” 
Jonathon succeeds Roger Martin, who served as chair of Population Matters from 2008 to 2016, taking up the role as our first President in 2016. Roger's huge contribution in that period included persuading many of its most high profile supporters to become patrons. Roger will be continuing to support and advance the charity's work as a roving 'Ambassador'.
Alistair Currie, Head of Campaigns and Communications
T: +44 (0)208 123 9170
Notes to Editor
(1) Jonathon Porritt biography
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 a global sustainability not-for-profit, with 70 staff and over 100 partner organisations including some of the world’s leading companies. In addition he is President of The Conservation Volunteers, a Non-Executive Director of Willmott Dixon Holdings, 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, co-chair of the Green Party and, as Chairman of the UK Sustainable Development Commission until 2009, he spent nine years providing high-level advice to Government Ministers. Jonathon was installed as the Chancellor of Keele University in February 2012. His most recent books are ‘Capitalism as if the World Matters’ (2007) and ‘The World We Made’ (2013) - which seeks to inspire people about the prospects of a sustainable world in 2050. Jonathon received a CBE in January 2000 for services to environmental protection.
(2) More information about Population Matters www.populatiomatters.org and https://www.populationmatters.org/about/about-population-matters/
(3) Jonathon Porritt writings on population: http://www.jonathonporritt.com/Campaigns/population
(4) Full list of Population Matters patrons: https://www.populationmatters.org/about/people-and-story/patrons/
(5) Project to reach environmental organisations: press release, 26 February 2014
(6) Recent deevlopments in highlighting population issue:
Tech-fixes alone won’t save planet. MIT study shows no evidence of ‘dematerialisation’.
Article by outgoing environment editor of The Guardian, John Vidal, ‘The Seven Deadly Things we’re doing to trashing our planet (and human life with it)’. Number 4, ‘The one no one wants to talk about – human population’:
Research published in the July 2017 Proceedings of US National Academy of Sciences describing a ‘biological annihilation’ of wildlife in recent decades ‘means a sixth mass extinction…underway and more severe than previously feared.’ Human population cited as key driver.
Lund University research comparing individual actions to curb climate change. Established that having one fewer child is the most effective by a factor of 20 Most effective? Having one fewer child (especially in developed countries).
Project Drawdown’s evaluation of Top 10 most effective, available solutions for contributing to curb climate change. At 6 & 7 ‘Educating Girls & Family Planning’. Combined these = No 1, saving more Gigatonnes of carbon per annum than all onshore and offshore wind power combined.
World Scientists’ Warning – 25 years on from the initial warning to humanity, over 20,000 scientists from over 180 countries and multiple disciplines issued their second warning, which highlights population growth as one primary driver of the ecological crisis: “It is also time to re-examine and change our individual behaviors, including limiting our own reproduction (ideally to replacement level at most) …”
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