I am fortunate to have experienced a full and varied professional career throughout nearly 40 years of working life. This has spanned a variety of situations and disciplines at home and abroad, including conservation biology of tortoises, habitat and other wildlife surveys, environmental management of golf courses and the conception and implementation of sustainability programmes for Olympic and Paralympic Games and other major events. Throughout my career I have been a strong advocate for professional standards in ecology and environmental management and the development of integrated approaches to sustainability.
Below are some of the highlights from my work:
Sustainability Management Systems standards
Since my work on the sustainability programme for London 2012, I have been delighted to witness the development of the international standard ISO 20121: 2012 Event Sustainability Management Systems with Guidance for Use. Not only is this a fabulous legacy from London 2012, but it has also become in its own right a valuable tool to enable other event organisations implement effective sustainability programmes.
I am particularly pleased to have been commissioned on a number of prestigious projects to support the development of corporate sustainability programmes based on the framework of ISO 20121. These include UEFA (for the Euro 2016 Championship in France) and the World Economic Forum (for the Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland – since 2015).
Olympic Evaluation Commissions
Since 2013 I have participated as an expert advisor to the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) prestigious Evaluation Commission responsible for assessing the candidatures of cities bidding to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
To date I have been involved in four rounds of evaluation:
- The 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games: Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo (elected).
- The 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games: Almaty and Beijing (elected).
- The 2024 & 2028 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games: Paris (elected 2024), Los Angeles (elected 2028).
- The 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games: Stockholm-Are and Milano-Cortina (elected).
The role is to examine why each city is bidding for the Games, how they propose to deliver the project and to provide a report to the full IOC membership assessing the risks, opportunities and legacy aspects of each candidature. This is a vital part of the host city election process, which the IOC and the respective city and national governments of the bidding cities take very seriously.
Sustainability is a major focus for the evaluation and has been included as an integral part of the Host City Contract – Operational Requirements. I am proud to have played a part in developing these requirements, which draw heavily on the LOCOG experience and form an important legacy of London 2012.
During the late 1980s I teamed up with a number of like-minded ecology practitioners who were concerned about the lack of professional status for our discipline and the need for raising professional standards across the sector. This led to the inauguration of the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (IEEM) in September 1991. I served on the Institute’s Council for the first six years of its existence.
In March 2013 I became a Fellow of the Institute, which has since achieved Royal Charter status, so is now known as CIEEM. There are currently over 5,000 members of the Institute.
Also in 2013 I received two significant professional awards: the CIEEM Medal, the institute’s highest individual award, and I was the first Chartered Environmentalist of the Year, awarded by the Society for the Environment.
My career began in the early 1980s when I took on a three-year research project to study the ecology of Hermann’s tortoise (Testudo hermanni) in southern France. This was funded by the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council, via the University of Kent at Canterbury.
The study led directly to a major, long-term conservation programme based in the area where I had worked: the Massif des Maures. Together with a local friend Bernard Devaux, in 1986 we established SOPTOM a not-for-profit association dedicated to the conservation of tortoises in the wild. In 1988 we opened the first ‘Village des Tortues’ (Tortoise Village); a visitor centre and base for our programme that has been running successfully for over 30 years. In this time the Tortoise Village has received nearly 3 million visitors and benefited from the participation of some 3,000 young ‘eco-volunteers’.
I was President of SOPTOM from 2001 to 2016 and, as of 2017 I have become the association’s first Honorary President. In 2016, along with Bernard Devaux and Prof Ian Swingland (Durrell Institute of Conservation Ecology), I was a proud recipient of the Kay Gray Cup, an award from the British Chelonia Group for outstanding contributions to tortoise conservation.