People & Planet
|Founded||1969 as 'Third World First'|
|Type||Company Limited by Guarantee and Charity registered in England & Wales and Scotland.|
|Focus||Student activism, Poverty, Human Rights and Environmentalism|
|Method||Lobbying, protest, direct action|
|£380,000 Pound Sterling (2010-11)|
|20,000+ members of their primary mailing list|
|Slogan||Student action on World Poverty, Human Rights and the Environment.|
People & Planet is a network of student campaign groups in the UK. It is "the largest student campaigning organization in the country campaigning to alleviate world poverty, defend human rights and protect the environment."
People & Planet is Britain's largest student network campaigning on global poverty, human rights, and the environment. The network has over 2,000 active members at 50 universities and 79 schools and colleges across the UK.
People & Planet groups are autonomous and there is no formal membership system. The organisation is overseen by a Management Committee, the majority of whom are student members elected by the network. The support office, based in Oxford, provides training, outreach and resources to support groups and campaigns.
People & Planet is funded primarily from governmental grants, trusts and foundations, and an increasingly successful social enterprise training FE and school students. People & Planet has a Fundraising and Activist Network called the FAN Club, allowing members to make regular monthly donations that provide invaluable unrestricted income to support the organization's work.
The organization was founded in 1969 as Third World First by a group of students at Oxford University, supported by NGOs including Oxfam. In 1997, the network voted to change the name to People & Planet.
Third World First was instrumental in setting up the magazine, The Internationalist which was later reincarnated as the now popular activist-magazine, The New Internationalist.
People & Planet's current campaign areas are climate change and corporate power.
People & Planet are currently running the Buy Right campaign, focusing on defending human rights within university supply chains. Universities are being encouraged to sign up to the Worker Rights Consortium, an independent monitoring organisation that supports workers in the garment industry in defending their workplace rights. People & Planet is also currently involved in plans to set up a new organisation, Electronics Watch, which will perform a similar monitoring function in the Electronics sector.
In 2013, the People & Planet network launched a new campaign targeting the fossil fuel industry, and in particular the role of Unconventional Fossil Fuels. Working in partnership with 350.org, the Fossil Free UK campaign aims to sever the links between the fossil fuel industry and UK universities. These links include investments and endowments, academic research, sponsorship and partnership arrangements.
People & Planet's previous climate change campaign, Going Greener aimed to create 'Transition Universities'. It brings together a student movement on campus working towards low-carbon, resilient and community-led education institutions that achieve carbon emissions reductions of at least 50% by 2020.
Past successes and campaigns
People & Planet activists have played a key role in action for social and environmental justice across a variety of campaigns.
- Largely due to pressure from People & Planet groups, there are now over 100 Fairtrade universities and 106 Fairtrade secondary schools.
- The Ethics for USS (the University Superannuation Scheme) campaign persuaded the £20 billion lecturers’ pension fund to adopt a socially responsible investment policy. The legacy of the campaign was the founding of charity FairPensions (now ShareAction).
- People & Planet supported the world's largest ever garment boycott, which led to the establishment of the first recognised garment union in Honduras & 1200 factory workers being re-employed.
- The Treat Aids Now campaign persuaded the UK government to lead an international commitment to provide HIV/AIDS treatment for all by 2010.
- As part of the Jubilee 2000 campaign, People & Planet and other groups secured $88bn debt cancellation for the world’s poor.
The People & Planet Green League
People & Planet's Green League is the only comprehensive and independent ranking of UK universities by environmental and ethical performance. In 2012, the People & Planet Green League was published in The Guardian.
The People & Planet Green League was first published in 2007, as a way of driving forward environmental performance within the university sector. The People & Planet Green League publicly benchmarks the sector's green credentials by combining universities' estates performance data with information about their environmental policies and management practices.
It initially scored UK universities on four key institutional factors needed to drive forward significant and sustained improvement in environmental performance, as highlighted by the Going Green report. These criteria were:
- The active, public support of senior university management for a programme of environmental performance improvement.
- Full-time staff dedicated to environmental management.
- A comprehensive review to investigate all the environmental impacts of the institution, and performance monitoring.
- A written, publicly available environmental policy.
Since the first Green League in 2007, People & Planet has widened the criteria to assess both policy and performance of higher education institutions.
The Green League is widely credited with shifting the UK's Higher Education sector towards improved environmental management and performance. In 2012, People & Planet awarded 46 First Class awards in the Green League, compared to just 15 in 2007. Notable improvements have been measured in areas such as the proportion of renewable electricity used by universities (72%, up from 12% in 2007) and in the number of Fairtrade Universities (112, up from 41 in 2007).
In 2012, People & Planet held its first ever Green League Graduation Ceremony in Westminster, celebrating the achievements of its top-ranking universities.
Awards and Praise
The People & Planet Green League has been shortlisted for the Green Gown award, administered by the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC).
People & Planet runs several events each year across its network.
Shared Planet is the largest student campaigning conference in the UK. Previous speakers have included Shiv Malik, Peter Tatchell and Caroline Lucas. In 2012, Shared Planet was held at Sheffield Hallam University and will be held in London in 2013.
Summer Gathering is a yearly camp which prepares student activists for the year ahead with training, workshops, bonfires and a ceilidh.
Each spring, a series of regional Student Activism Weekends are held across the network, to bring together members to participate in People & Planet's democratic process. These events include the election of student members to the Management Committee and deciding which new campaigns the network will focus on. The Student Activism Weekends replaced the annual decision making conference, The Forum.
- “Over the last three years People & Planet has become an extraordinary organization which attracts student supporters on a scale unmatched within the UK charity and campaign sector. More than any other youth organization it is encouraging the emerging generation to see themselves as global citizens with a responsibility for taking action on global problems of poverty and the environment.”
- “People & Planet is one of the most vibrant and effective campaigning organisations in the country. What marks it out from the others is its focus on inspiring and supporting young people. By questioning underlying assumptions and conventional wisdom, and by challenging organizations that are much bigger and more powerful than itself, People & Planet demonstrates its political courage and its independence of thought. I am privileged to be part of People & Planet and hope that this review will give you a glimpse of some extraordinary campaigning by some extraordinary young people over the last year.”
George Monbiot, Guardian columnist, writer and environmentalist, 2007.
- Guy Hughes (1974–2006) was head of People & Planet's Campaigns until 2004 when, following the outbreak of war in Iraq, he set up Crisis Action, a UK initiative to help co-ordinate NGO responses to crisis situations.
- The environmental campaigner and journalist George Monbiot is patron of People & Planet.
- Former members include Mark Lazarowicz, MP; Catherine Stihler, MP (at the University of St Andrews); and Mark Ballard, former MSP and Rector (at the University of Edinburgh) where the People & Planet group was instrumental in his election in 2006, against a field including Magnus Linklater, Boris Johnson and John Pilger.
- The internationally published hymn writer and theologian Brian Wren is a former Coordinator of People & Planet.
- Going Green, Going Green report
- People & Planet Green League Methodology http://peopleandplanet.org/greenleague/methodology
- People & Planet Green League Report 2012: Driving UK Universities' Transition to a Fair and Sustainable Future
- "People & Planet launches new Green League report in Westminster" http://peopleandplanet.org/navid14230
- Green League Wins Award