John Elkington
Co-Founder and Honorary Chairman

I was born in 1949, got involved in this great movement of ours by raising money for WWF in its first year—1961, feel we are only just beginning to get traction with challenges that have been growing more urgent every day of my life, and hope to retire, if ever, some time around 2049.

John co-founded SustainAbility with Julia Hailes in 1987, served as Chairman from 1995-2005, and has been a Board member throughout. Previously, he worked with TEST (Transport & Environment Studies as a Senior Associate, 1974-78), co-founded Environmental Data Services (ENDS) Ltd in 1978 (where he was Founding Editor and later Managing Director), and John Elkington Associates in 1983. In 2008, he co-founded Volans, where he is Executive Chairman.

John is a world authority on corporate responsibility and sustainable development. In 2004, BusinessWeek described him as “a dean of the corporate responsibility movement for three decades.” In 2008, The Evening Standard named him 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 him fourth out of 100 people listed: after Al Gore, Barack Obama and the late Anita Roddick of the Body Shop, and alongside Muhammad Yunus of the Grameen Bank.

John is author or co-author of 17 books (including 1988’s million-selling Green Consumer Guide; the most recent being The Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets That Change the World, co–authored with Pamela Hartigan and published by Harvard Business School Press, 2008) and over 40 published reports (the most recent being The Transparent Economy: Six Tigers Stalk the Global Recovery—and How to Tame Them, 2010).

A longer bio can be found at the Volans site, and his personal website and blog can be found at

  • – University College London (UCL), M.Phil., Urban & Regional Planning, 1974
    – University of Essex, BA (Hons), Sociology & Social Psychology, 1970
    – Bryanston School, 1962-66
Personal Interests
Who’s Who entry lists John’s recreations as: “playing with ideas, thinking around corners, conversations with unreasonable people, reading an Alpine range of books (history to science fiction) and US 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.”
  • English (mother tongue)
    French (modest)


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