John Elkington who has been described by Business Week as ‘a dean of the corporate social responsibility movement for three decades’ is the founding partner and executive chairman of sustainability think tank Volans Ventures and is a world authority on corporate responsibility and sustainable development.
John is Founding Partner & Executive Chairman of Volans (2008 to date) and is also Co-founder of SustainAbility (1987-2008, where he remains a non-executive member of the Board) and of Environmental Data Services (ENDS, 1978), John Elkington is a world authority on corporate responsibility and sustainable development. His first involvement in the field was raising money for the newly formed World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in 1961, aged 11.
In 2008, The Evening Standard named John among the ‘1000 Most Influential People’ in London, describing him as “a true green business guru,” and as “an evangelist for corporate social and environmental responsibility long before it was fashionable.”
In 2009, a CSR International survey of the Top 100 CSR leaders placed John fourth: after Al Gore, Barack Obama and the late Anita Roddick of the Body Shop, and alongside Muhammad Yunus of the Grameen Bank.
In August 2001, John was named among the ‘100 Global Sustain Ability Leaders for 2011’ by ABC Carbon and the Sustain Ability Showcase Asia, based on nominations and recommendations received from around the globe.
Volans, launched in April 2008, is a future-focused business working at the intersection of the sustainability, entrepreneurship and innovation movements. Volans applies thought leadership and global networks across these areas to develop solutions for entrepreneurs, businesses, governments and investors.
In terms of other hats, John is a Visiting Professor at the Doughty Centre for Corporate Responsibility at the Cranfield School of Management. He chairs The Foundation for Democracy & Sustainable Development (FDSD) and the Aflatoun Impact and Policy Analysis Steering Group, and is an Honorary Fellow of The Hub. He is also a member of various strategic advisory boards: 2degrees; Bayer Material Science; EcoVadis; Gaia Energy; the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI); Instituto Ethos; Nestlé’s Creating Shared Value; One Earth Innovation, Polecat UK and a Cleantech Fund developed by zouk Ventures. He is also a Senior Advisor to the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, a member of the WWF Council of Ambassadors, a member of the Evian Group Brain Trust and Council of Global Thought Leaders; the Global Leaders Academy; the Cleantech Group’s Cleantech Innovation Council and sits on Newsweek’s Green Rankings Advisory Board.
John has served as a juror for the first Gigaton Awards, developed by Sir Richard Branson’s non-profit Carbon War Room and dubbed the ‘oscars of sustainability’ and has recently joined the Advisory Boards of Guardian Sustainable Business, One Earth Innovation, the Katerva Challenge, F&C’s Committee of Reference, Recyclebank‘s Sustainability Advisory Council, Atkins‘ Futures and also an advisory panel for the Geneva Association. John is Chairman of two new initiatives still in formation: the Bright Young Sustainable Leaders’ Council and the Ecological Sequestration Trust.
John was awarded the 2011 Spencer Hutchens, Jr. Medal by the American Society for Quality (ASQ) primarily for his outstanding leadership, as an advocate for social responsibility, and for bringing about positive social change. Also, John has completed a Fellowship at the Bellagio Centre awarded to him by The Rockefeller Foundation.
He has written or co-authored 17 books, including 1988’s million-selling Green Consumer Guide (Victor Gollancz; co-authored with SustainAbility co-founder Julia Hailes), 1997’s Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business (Capstone/John Wiley; the book which brought his triple bottom line concept and agenda to a wider audience) and 2008’s The Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets That Change the World, (Harvard Business School Press), co-authored with Volans co-founder Pamela Hartigan. He is currently working on his latest book, The Zeronauts, due for publication in Spring 2012. The Zeronauts spotlights a new breed of innovators, entrepreneurs, investors and policy-makers who are pushing towards zero in such areas as population growth, pandemic risk, poverty, pollution and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The book will explore ways in which corporations, citizens, cities and countries can tackle the civilizational challenges at the intersections between demography, consumerist lifestyles, natural resource availability and climate change.
John is a Fast Company blogger and a columnist for a number of publications, including chinadialogue (China), CSR Wire (USA), Director Magazine (UK), Monday Morning (Denmark) and Nikkei Ecology (Japan) and Guardian Sustainable Business, as well as other media. As a public speaker, he has addressed over 500 conferences all over the world. He was a Faculty member of the World Economic Forum from 2002-2008.
His Who’s Who entry lists his recreations as: “playing with ideas, thinking around corners, conversations with unreasonable people, reading an Alpine range of books (history to science fiction) and business and science magazines, risking life and limb as a London cyclist, catch-it-as-you-can photography, art and design, writing all hours, pre-1944 aircraft, New World wines, 20th century popular music and Johann Strauss II.”