Jem Bendell

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Jem Bendell
Jem Bendell Keynote Address.png
Bendell presenting a keynote address on climate anxiety to the UK Council for Psychotherapy.
London, England
EducationUniversity of Cambridge
University of Bristol

Jem Bendell is a British professor of sustainability leadership and founder of the Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS) at the University of Cumbria.[1] He has written about monetary economics and the need for 'Deep Adaptation' in response to environmental crises. He regularly comments on current affairs and approaches that may help humanity face climate-induced disruption. In 2019 he founded the Deep Adaptation Forum to support responses to societal disruption from dangerous climate change.


Bendell graduated from Cambridge University in 1995, beginning his career at the World Wide Fund for Nature UK.[2] There, he helped to develop the Forest Stewardship Council and the Marine Stewardship Council. He specialised on relationships between NGOs and business, pointing out their potential, despite the power inequities and the way in which business agendas tend to prevail over those of the non-profit sector.[3]

He also became involved in the anti-globalisation movement, later writing a United Nations report on the conflict between business and civil society.[4] He founded Lifeworth, a progressive professional services company mostly working with UN agencies and worked part time as an associate professor of management at Griffith Business School.

After his time consulting for the United Nations, in 2012 Bendell joined Cumbria University and founded the Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS). On account of this work, the World Economic Forum named him a Young Global Leader.[2][5] In a 2011 TEDx talk he expanded his focus to monetary reform and complementary currencies, mentioning Bitcoin, and predicting that Facebook would launch their own currency.[6]

In 2006, Bendell worked with the World Wide Fund for Nature UK, analysing and ranking the social and environmental performance of luxury brands. His resulting report, Deeper Luxury: Quality and Style When the World Matters, was discussed internationally in over 50 newspapers as of late 2007.[7] The report argued that luxury brands were not meeting the expectations of customers for high performance on social and environmental issues.[8]

In the 2017 United Kingdom general election, he provided strategic communication advice to the Leader of the Labour Party.[9]

As of 2008, he had published over fifty publications, two books, and four United Nations reports.[7] In his 2014 book Healing Capitalism, Bendell proposes a new way of respecting private property whereby ownership rights would place a duty on owners (and their fiduciaries) to maintain demonstrable accountability to anyone directly affected by their property. This need for "capital accountability" would compel shareholders to be as interested in how corporations are accountable to stakeholders as they would be in either share price or dividends.[10]

Deep Adaptation[edit]

Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy is a paper self-published in July 2018 by sustainability leadership professor Jem Bendell. The concept of "deep adaptation" purports that humanity needs to prepare for a fundamental collapse of society due to climate change, with a likelihood of complete societal collapse. Unlike climate change adaptation, which aims to adapt societies gradually to the effects of climate change, Deep Adaptation is premised on accepting abrupt transformation of the environment as a consideration for making decisions today. Vice noted that it had a very large readership for an academic paper, having been downloaded more than 100,000 times as early as February 2019[11][12] (and more than 600,000 times as of November 2019).[11] In March 2019 Bendell founded the Deep Adaptation Forum to support practitioners and concerned citizens involved in preparing for what he considers a very likely collapse of industrial civilisation.[11]

Deep Adaptation was not published in an official scientific journal, and was rejected from the Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal for failing the peer-review process. Prominent climate scientists have criticized the paper for relying on discredited sources and flawed science.[13]

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • McIntosh, Malcolm; Bendell, Jem (2013). "Chapter 14: Currencies of transition". The Necessary Transition: The Journey Towards the Sustainable Enterprise Economy. Greenleaf. ISBN 978-1-906093-89-1.
  • Bendell, Jem; Doyle, Ian (31 March 2014). Healing Capitalism: Five Years in the Life of Business, Finance and Corporate Responsibility. Greenleaf Publishing. ISBN 9781906093914.[14]
  • Bendell, Jem (1 September 2017). "Currency innovation for sustainable financing of SMEs: context, case study and scalability". Journal of Corporate Citizenship. 2017: 39–62. ISSN 2051-4700.
  • Bendell, Jem (2018-07-27). "Deep adaptation: a map for navigating climate tragedy".
  • Bendell, Jem (2019). "Chapter 11: Doom and bloom: adapting to collapse". In Extinction Rebellion (ed.). This Is Not a Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook. Penguin. pp. 73–80. ISBN 9780141991443.[15]


  1. ^ "IFLAS - University of Cumbria". Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  2. ^ a b Tsjeng, Zing (27 February 2019). "The Climate Change Paper So Depressing It's Sending People to Therapy". Vice. Retrieved 20 April 2020.
  3. ^ In the Company of Partners, ISBN 9781861340177, Accessed 20 March 2019
  4. ^ Barricades & B/oardrooms: A Contemporary History of the Corporate Accountability Movement, SSN 1020-8216, Accessed 20 March 2019
  5. ^ "IFLAS - Jem Bendell, PhD - University of Cumbria". Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  6. ^ "TEDXMedia talk: The Money Myth". Retrieved 5 July 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Jem Bendell, director of Lifeworth". New York Times. The International Herald Tribune. 26 October 2008. Retrieved 22 April 2020.
  8. ^ Menkes, Suzy (29 March 2009). "Sustainability Is Back in Fashion". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  9. ^ James, Sam Burne. "Spinners, secondees and speechwriters: the people behind the General Election campaigns". Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  10. ^ Bendell and Doyle, Jem and Ian (2008). Healing capitalism: five years in the life of business, finance and corporate responsibility. London, UK.: Greenleaf Publishing / Routledge.
  11. ^ a b c Ahmed, Nafeez (9 January 2020). "The Collapse of Civilisation May Have Already Begun". Vice. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
  12. ^ Green, Matthew (11 April 2019). "Extinction Rebellion: inside the new climate resistance". Financial Times. Retrieved 18 December 2019.
  13. ^ Nicholas, Thomas; Galen, Hall; Colleen, Schmidt (14 July 2020). "The faulty science, doomism, and flawed conclusions of Deep Adaptation". openDemocracy.
  14. ^ Benardete, Georgie (23 September 2015). "Why we are all responsible for solving climate change". World Economic Forum.
  15. ^ O’Keeffe, Alice (7 August 2019). "This Is Not a Drill review – an Extinction Rebellion handbook". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 18 December 2019 – via

External links[edit]