Jonathon Porritt

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Jonathon Porritt in 2008

Jonathon Espie Porritt, CBE (born 6 July 1950) is a British environmentalist and writer, perhaps best known for his championing of Green issues and his advocacy of the Green Party of England and Wales. Porritt appears frequently in the media, writing in magazines, newspapers and books, and appearing on radio and television regularly. He has also written a number of books on Green issues. His newest title, The World We Made (Alex McKay's story from 2050) was launched in October 2013.

Early life and family background[edit]

Porritt was born in London, the son of The Rt. Hon. The Lord Porritt, 11th Governor-General of New Zealand. Lord Porritt, who served as a senior officer in the Royal Army Medical Corps during World War II, was also the bronze medalist in the 1924 Summer Olympics "Chariots of Fire" 100 metres race. As well as receiving a life peerage, Lord Porritt had previously been awarded a baronetcy. Jonathon Porritt is entitled to claim the baronetcy, becoming The Hon. Sir Jonathon Porritt, 2nd Baronet, but has so far not done so.[1] He has two daughters.[2]


Porritt was educated at Wellesley House School,[3] Broadstairs, Kent, Eton College, and Magdalen College, University of Oxford.

Early career[edit]

Despite training as a barrister, Porritt decided to become an English teacher at St Clement Danes Grammar School (later Burlington Danes School) in Shepherd's Bush, West London, in 1974.

Political and campaigning career[edit]

In the 1970s and early 1980s, Porritt was a prominent member of the Ecology Party. As chair of The Ecology Party (now the Green Party) from 1978 to 1984, he presided over changes that made the party much more prominent in elections. Under his stewardship, membership grew from a few hundred to around 3,000.

In 1984, Porritt's first book, Seeing Green, was published. In this year he also gave up teaching to become Director of Friends of the Earth in Britain, a post he held until 1990. From 1993–1996 he chaired Stakeholder Forum for a Sustainable Future then known as UNED-UK.

After the Greens achieved 15% of the European Parliamentary vote in 1989, Porritt became a strong public advocate of change in the Green Party. In particular, he advocated a more professional organisation with identifiable leaders.[4]

Porritt also backed the election of Cynog Dafis, the joint Plaid Cymru-Green MP for Ceredigion.[5]

With Sara Parkin and Paul Ekins, Porritt founded Forum for the Future in 1996, a sustainable development charity. In 1997 he was appointed the inaugural Chair of the incoming Labour government's Sustainable Development Commission from which he retired in September 2009.

Porritt has also supported the Forests Now Declaration, which calls for new market based mechanisms to protect tropical forests.

In February 2009, Porritt stated that population growth is a serious threat to the global environment and that contraception, abortion and family planning is a part of the answer to global warming. He thinks that people should have no more than two children and if they do, they are being irresponsible[citation needed].

Porritt has been heavily criticised for what some are calling anti-family and communist-like comments.[6]

When he founded Forum of the Future, Porritt withdrew from party politics to concentrate on his non-party political roles. In March 2009, Porritt spoke at the launch of the South West Green Party European Election campaign in Bristol, stating that he had always remained a member of the Green Party and that it was the correct time to reaffirm his support.

Since leaving the SDC, Porritt has publicly supported the report Prosperity Without Growth.[7]

Prior to the 2015 UK general election, he was one of several public figures who endorsed the parliamentary candidacy of the Green Party's Caroline Lucas.[8]

Current activities[edit]

The Hon. Jonathon Porritt receiving an honorary degree

Porritt acts as advisor to many bodies on environmental matters, as well as to individuals including Prince Charles. He is a board member of Wessex Water and Willmott Dixon and advises Marks & Spencer on its forward strategy.

Porritt is on the advisory board of BBC Wildlife magazine and actively supports the efforts of experts promoting renewable energy and sustainable development such as Walt Patterson. He is a former Chair and current President of sustainable development charity Sustainability South West. From 2000 to 2009, he was chair of the Sustainable Development Commission set up by the prime minister, Tony Blair. He was, however, critical of the Labour government for its environmental record and its pro-nuclear stance, and has campaigned against nuclear power.[9]

Porritt is a patron of population concern charity Population Matters, (formerly known as the Optimum Population Trust)[10] and Denmark Farm Conservation Centre [1], Ceredigion. A substantial rewrite of his best-selling book Capitalism: As if the World Matters was published by Earthscan in September 2007. In 2000 he became an honorary graduate of the University of Sussex and in July 2008, he became an honorary graduate of the University of Exeter.[11] On 9 February 2012 he became Chancellor of Keele University.[12]


Arms of Jonathon Porritt
Arthur Porritt Arms.svg
The arms of The Hon. Jonathon Porritt were originally granted to his father. They consist of:
On a wreath Or and Gules, a dent Heraldic Antelope Gules armed Azure collared Or, holding a Torch of the last enflamed proper between two Fern Fronds Vert
Or, a serpent in bend vert between two lions' heads erased gules, on a chief of the last two swords points upwards in saltire of the first, between as many roses argent both surmounted by another gules barbed and seeded proper
Sapienter et fortiter ferre




See also[edit]


  1. ^ Baronetage website
  2. ^ Who's who
  3. ^ Wellesley House School – Alumni – Distinguished others – Sir Jonathan Porritt (sic) Publisher: Wellesley House School. Retrieved: 22 May 2013.
  4. ^ 'Porritt urges streamlining of leadership system', Financial Times, 23 September 1989
  5. ^ Article by John Morrisey
  6. ^ Templeton, Sarah-Kate (1 February 2009). "Two children should be limit says green guru". The Times (London). Retrieved 7 May 2010. 
  7. ^ Blog Post by Jonathon Porritt
  8. ^ Elgot, Jessica (24 April 2015). "Celebrities sign statement of support for Caroline Lucas – but not the Greens". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 22 July 2015. 
  9. ^ John Vidal (10 April 2012). "Vicious words mark the war between pro and anti-nuclear environmentalists". The Guardian. 
  10. ^ "Population Matters Patrons". 
  11. ^
  12. ^ Keele University Announces New Chancellor, 10 November 2011

External links[edit]

Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Arthur Porritt
(of Hampstead)
Since 1994 unproven incumbent
Succeeded by
Academic offices
Preceded by
Professor Sir David Weatherall
Chancellor of Keele University
Succeeded by