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John was hailed by Friends of the Earth as ‘the best Environment Secretary we have ever had.’ He’s now Chair of the Committee on Climate Change, advising the Government on progress with emissions targets. In presentations John sets out the business case for a sustainable approach, starting with the supply chain; merely following regulations may not be enough to protect a reptutation that’s taken years to build. He also explores the role of business in public health.
John Gummer was Secretary of State for the Environment for five years during John Major’s premiership. He was also a Cabinet Minister under Margaret Thatcher Major. Noted as an exceptionally effective minister, he was widely praised for his work on raising the environmental agenda and working with other governments and NGOs. He was voted Parliamentarian who did most for the Environment Internationally in the BBC Green Awards, and Friends of the Earth called him ‘the best Environment Secretary we’ve ever had’.
In a political career stretching back to the 1960s, John has observed the workings of Westminster through huge shifts, working in the Ministery of Agriculture under the Heath administration, serving as Conservative Party Chairman and Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food under Thatcher and, finally as Secretary of State for the Environment under Major. John remained an active MP up until the 2010 general election.
Unusually for a politician, John retained a passion and knowledge of one brief throughout his career: the environment. Perhaps more unusually for a Conservative, he has earned plaudits both from Greenpeace and the business community, as well as from the Labour Government for his work. Seen almost as a non-partisan politician, John’s work has covered the effects of agriculture policy on wildlife in the countryside, the ‘greening’ of European agricultural policy, and was appointed by Labour to represent the UK at the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly (The Earth Summit). He also played a key role in the Convention on Climate Change meetings in Berlin and Geneva. The Secretary-General of the United Nations named him as one of the small Committee of Distinguished Persons advising on Habitat II, the UN Conference on Human Settlements, and he was elected Chairman of the Environment Committee of the OECD by his fellow Ministers.
As both a businessman (leading his own successful sustainability consultancy) and a Cabinet Minister who earned the respect of the Green movement worldwide, John has been very well placed to present current international environmental issues in an effective and hard-hitting way. He firmly believes that business opportunities can be made out of environmental problems, and now devotes much of his time to spreading that message to industry. As at home with big global businesses and environmental pressure groups, John prides himself on being able to speak the language of both extremes without compromising the need to find practical solutions.
Since leaving government office he has served as Chairman of the new International Commission on Sustainable Consumption and was selected as an EU member of a select Track II Diplomatic group to advise on world climate change. As well as offering a serious insight into climate change and sustainability, John also recounts anecdotes and lessons from his political life offering an view on Margaret Thatcher’s leadership style and how to cope with PR disasters.
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