General news

Sir Jonathon Porritt
17 October 2018

British environmentalist Sir Jonathon Porritt to address a future of sustainability at Nelson lecture

The Cawthron Institute Trust Board is proud to announce British environmentalist, Sir Jonathon Porritt as its speaker for the Thomas Cawthron Memorial Lecture in Nelson Tasman on 23 October 2018.

Porritt is a leading British environmentalist, renowned for his solution-based approach to sustainability and refreshing perspective that keeps hope in the picture. Porritt will examine cutting-edge environmental sustainability research as his topic for this year’s lecture.

“Reasons to despair are ever more present in our lives today,” says Porritt, “but the last few months of climate-related disasters, and incredibly disturbing new climate research, makes it harder and harder to keep that despair at bay. By contrast, hope often seems very fragile against such a backdrop, but it still permeates my life as an incorrigible advocate of a solutions agenda that gets more and more substantive by the day.”

“The Thomas Cawthron Memorial Lecture is a free annual community event for the people of Nelson Tasman, held since 1917 to commemorate the legacy of Thomas Cawthron and to share science with the public,” says Bob Dickinson, Cawthron Institute Trust Board chair. “Many distinguished scientists and scholars have featured as lecturers, including Professor Thomas Easterfield, Sir Ernest Rutherford, Sir Edmund Hillary, Professor Robert Winston, and the Rt Hon. Helen Clark.”

Dickinson says, “this year’s lecture, titled Natural Capital: Reimagining Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, is timely, as New Zealand faces considerable environmental challenges and conflicts. This includes climate change and how to stop the decline of freshwater resources.”

Porritt’s lecture will look at questions to do with regenerative agriculture and soil health; climate change and where the science now tells us we are; energy, in particular the redundancy of fossil fuels, and moving towards renewables; water quality and water scarcity around the world. The lecture is very topical alongside last week’s release of the New Zealand Government’s blueprint to improve freshwater quality and the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report calling for urgent action to phase out fossil fuels.

Porritt has been involved with environmental issues for nearly 50 years. After ten years as a teacher, he became Director of Friends of the Earth. Porritt attended the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 – and this life-changing experience led Porritt to co-establish Forum for the Future in 1996, which is now the UK’s leading sustainable development charity, employing 70 staff and partnering with more than 100 organisations worldwide.

He received a CBE in January 2000 for services to environmental protection, and his many publications include The World We Made, and Capitalism as if the World Matters.