Jonathon Porritt at MMU, SEEG Lecture.

Posted by Zoe Fletcher on Thursday, March 20, 2014

...Jonathon Porritt's most recent book is out now...

Sir Jonathon Porritt is an acclaimed environmentalist and author. He has championed issues as part of the Green Party in England, has numerous books dedicated to the exploration and education of environmental issues, he was director at Friends of the Earth and is an integral part of Forum for the Future.

 His most recent book ‘The World we made’ is next on my reading list, so I shall update this account when I have finished reading - if it is anything like his lecture I’m sure it will be engaging and very thought provoking.

Jonathon defines the roles of business and the infrastructure that it is tied to as the ‘means by which we bring forward new thinking’. A transformed and rejuvenated way of doing business that links in the many different sectors that will enable us as a society to progress without devastating the delicate ecosystem around us.

He focused on the governance of social justice and the bio-physical (defined as the biotic and abiotic surroundings of an organism or population, which includes the factors that have an influence in their survival) needs of our world.

Focusing on the triangle of governance that is weaved into our society (Government - business - civil society), which intensifies and complicates the ‘blame’ or ‘change’ factors necessary to facilitate environmental progression. Jonathon highlights the fact that at Rio+20 “Businesses stepped forward”, Businesses have and can shape the way that goods are available and marketed to consumers - UK businesses “exist to generate a surplus”. Is there a battle between the natural world versus the human world? Can we balance meeting our needs with maintaining a vibrant and flourishing ecosystem?

The following statement left a lasting impression on me, that ‘we have lost the connective-ness between knowledge, research and policy making’. There is a void between scientific/progressive research and the policy makers that hold the influence for change.

 Over the past ten years the development of new technologies has added a new dimension to sustainability - when you team sustainability with technology we create “do-ability”. In my opinion we need this “do-ability” to engage creators, inventors, designers that are passionate and able to “do” to encourage social, environmental and cultural change, however, technology can only deliver if the right policies are in place (see: triangle of governance).

Connectivity, traceability and transparency were also prominent in Jonathon’s talk. Investigating the disparity between national systems and local city policies highlights the discrepancies between hierarchies.

I found Jonathon’s talk refreshing and insightful, the positive connotations for change made the listener feel empowered not depleted and really opened my eyes and made me begin to think more about the policy makers and changers and how this directly influences my ideas for positive change as a designer.

I am now off to read his book I have just loaned form the library...


Zoe Grace Fletcher Currently undertaking a PhD at Manchester Metropolitan University within the MIRIAD post-graduate department, I am beginning a practice based academic journey into British wool fibres and new technologies within knitwear design. Graduating with Distinction from a Masters in Fashion and the Environment at London College of Fashion, specialising in hand-knitting and the British Wool Industry, I have worked on a number of knitwear collections (personal and external companies), whilst freelancing and researching for a number of exciting projects. My work revolves around the idea of sustainable fashion from a knitted perspective and the different ways to achieve this incorporating the ideas of slow fashion into mainstream society. I love knitting. And wool. And double sided sticky tape.
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