If your company needed advice on improving its environmental strategy and getting out the message who should it turn to? At first glance, Jonathan Porritt would not seem the obvious choice.

As a former co-chairman of the UK’s Green Party and a director of Friends of the Earth, Mr Porritt was something of an enfant terrible in environmental circles. His task was to draw attention to corporations that were not taking environmental issues seriously enough.

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But he did use his time at Friends of the Earth to professionalise the organisation. Mr Porritt saw this as necessary to develop what he calls “respectable radicalism”, to get people in positions of power to consider seriously the environmental debate.

But Mr Porritt did not stop there. By the time of the Rio Summit in 1992, he underwent something of a conversion. Much to the alarm of fellow activists, he became convinced there had been a paradigm shift and, rather than campaign against major corporations, he saw the need to work with them.

These days, Mr Porritt would excel running a multinational’s public relations campaign. He knows the issues and how the campaigners might seize on them. In recognition of his prowess he was recently named environmental communicator of the year for 2001 by The British Association of Communicators in Business.

Unfortunately Mr Porritt has not yet taken a position as a global communications chief at a multinational. But he is one of the founders of Forum for the Future, a charity dedicated to accelerating change on the environment by working with government, business and higher education. He heads the business section, which works towards providing sustainable development solutions with major companies such as Unilever. He believes that business has no choice but to get involved in achieving sustainable development. “It is in the interest of business to do it because it is in their interest financially,” he says.

Mr Porritt may be more mainstream these days but he has not lost his hard edge. At a recent conference on sustainable development, he claimed that he felt sorry for people who ignore the role of business in the environment and sustainability because “they must have difficulties in their personal lives if they ignore the truth”.

If your company needed advice on improving its environmental strategy and getting out the message who should it turn to? At first glance, Jonathan Porritt would not seem the obvious choice.

As a former co-chairman of the UK’s Green Party and a director of Friends of the Earth, Mr Porritt was something of an enfant terrible in environmental circles. His task was to draw attention to corporations that were not taking environmental issues seriously enough.

But he did use his time at Friends of the Earth to professionalise the organisation. Mr Porritt saw this as necessary to develop what he calls “respectable radicalism”, to get people in positions of power to consider seriously the environmental debate.

But Mr Porritt did not stop there. By the time of the Rio Summit in 1992, he underwent something of a conversion. Much to the alarm of fellow activists, he became convinced there had been a paradigm shift and, rather than campaign against major corporations, he saw the need to work with them.

These days, Mr Porritt would excel running a multinational’s public relations campaign. He knows the issues and how the campaigners might seize on them. In recognition of his prowess he was recently named environmental communicator of the year for 2001 by The British Association of Communicators in Business.

Unfortunately Mr Porritt has not yet taken a position as a global communications chief at a multinational. But he is one of the founders of Forum for the Future, a charity dedicated to accelerating change on the environment by working with government, business and higher education. He heads the business section, which works towards providing sustainable development solutions with major companies such as Unilever. He believes that business has no choice but to get involved in achieving sustainable development. “It is in the interest of business to do it because it is in their interest financially,” he says.

Mr Porritt may be more mainstream these days but he has not lost his hard edge. At a recent conference on sustainable development, he claimed that he felt sorry for people who ignore the role of business in the environment and sustainability because “they must have difficulties in their personal lives if they ignore the truth”.