Sara Parkin founded Forum for the Future, along with Jonathon Porritt and Paul Ekins (who is currently Professor of Energy and Environment Policy at UCL). Although obviously enthusiastic about all it does, her primary interest is in developing the capacity of people to provide ‘sustainability literate’ leadership. Early on she designed the Forum Masters course – now in its 15th year – and enjoys seeing its alumni moving into leader roles in many sectors, including setting up their own sustainability enterprises. Other areas of special interest include our Engineers of the 21st Century work, and innovation in the design and operation of the economy, currently the key obstacle to making environmental protection and social justice the objective of what Adam Smith called ‘the toil and bustle’ of our lives, and governance of organisations and institutions, both national and international.
She is Chair of the Richard Sandbrook Trust and a Trustee of the St Andrews Prize for the Environment (1998). She sits on the board of the European Training Foundation (2009) and am a member of the Advisory Committee for Finance South-East Community Fund, as well as advising on science in society for the Living With Environmental Change research programme (2009-). Former board terms include the Natural Environment Research Council (2003-2009), the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (2003-2009) and the Environment Agency (2003-2006).
Sara started working life as a nurse in Edinburgh. She has campaigned for the environment and sustainable development in various roles for over 40 years, including playing leading roles in the UK Green Party and international green politics during the 1970s and 1980s, and governance roles with a range of NGOs, including New Economics Foundation (1994-1995), Groundwork (1997-1999) and Friends of the Earth (1996-2002). She has written several books, the latest being The Positive Deviant: Leadership for sustainability in a perverse world published by Earthscan in July 2010.
Sara is an honorary companion of the Institution of Civil Engineers and of the Institute of Energy, and became a Founding Fellow of the Engineering Council in 2009. In 2001 she was awarded an OBE for services to education and sustainability.