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Caroline Lucas and Sir David Attenborough top list of ‘Environmental Heroes’ for Earth Day

Press release

Caroline Lucas and Sir David Attenborough top list of ‘Environmental Heroes’ for Earth Day

London, 19th April 2017: Ahead of Earth Day 2017 (22 April), CEOs from the UK’s leading environmental charities have voted for their ‘Environmental Heroes’ as part of the Pulse Survey conducted by the Environmental Funders Network. Caroline Lucas, the Green Party’s first ever Member of Parliament, topped the list of votes for her work forcing environmental issues into a mainstream politics. She is closely followed by Sir David Attenborough, the much-loved broadcaster and naturalist. They are joined by a diverse range of campaigners and naturalists from broadcasting, business, and science, as well as more established environmentalists such as George Monbiot, Tony Juniper and Mark Avery.

Chris Packham, naturalist and presenter of Springwatch, came joint third on the list for his role in educating the British public on TV over the past 30 years, and promoting environmental and conservation issues alongside his broadcasting work. He is joined on the list by fellow TV personality Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, who has brought together the world of food and the environment through his cookery shows and his campaigns on the fishing industry and reducing food waste.

Alongside these naturalists and campaigners whose primary focus is the environment, the Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney makes a surprising inclusion. However, Carney has been at the forefront of raising awareness between climate change and the economy. Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, also appears on the list for taking leaps to encourage sustainable business practices in large companies.

Currently less than five per cent of public charitable donations are committed to environmental causes. The Environmental Funders Network (‘EFN’) is a network of individuals, trusts and family offices seeking to encourage vital financial support for environmental causes and improve the overall effectiveness of this philanthropy. Since its founding in 2003, over 200 high-level donors (institutional and individual) have benefited from participation the network.

EFN’s Pulse Survey aims to ‘take the pulse’ of the environment sector by asking senior executives and influencers about their views on past achievements and future challenges in the UK and globally. EFN asked 92 representatives from the sector which individuals they felt had done the most to advance the environmental agenda over the past 3 years, in order to establish who is most highly regarded amongst their peers. The full survey will be published later in 2017.

Ben Goldsmith, Co-Founder of the Environmental Funders Network, said: “We are delighted that there are so many inspiring and dedicated “Environmental Heroes” to celebrate on this list. However, we still have a lot of work to do to increase the levels of funding being donated to environmental causes. Tackling threats to our environment is crucial for humanity’s future, including the health and economic wellbeing of future generations. The Environmental Funders Network is committed improving awareness of environmental causes and facilitating effective environmental giving.”

Commenting on his inclusion in the list of ‘Environmental Heroes’, BBC TV presenter and naturalist Chris Packham said: Given that I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to make a difference and I get up every day with this in mind, this is very kind and flattering recognition from some key people. Thank you, I’ll keep trying. In fact, I’ll try even harder.”

The full list and rankings of ‘Environmental Heroes’ taken from the Environmental Funders Network’s Pulse Survey 2017 (chief executives of UK environmental organisations were asked, “In the UK, which individuals have done the most to advance the environmental agenda over the past 3 years?”):

  1.  Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton and Co-leader of the Green Party
  2. Sir David Attenborough, Broadcaster and Naturalist
  3. Chris Packham, Naturalist and Presenter of Springwatch

    = George Monbiot, Environmental Activist and Guardian Columnist
    = Tony Juniper, Environmentalist and Sustainability Campaigner

  1. James Thornton, Environmental Lawyer and Founding CEO of ClientEarth
  2. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Chef and Food & Environment Campaigner

    = Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England

  1. Helen Browning, Organic Farmer

    = Jonathon Porritt, Environmentalist and Writer
    = Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever

  1. HRH Prince William, Environment and Conservation Campaigner

    = Mark Avery, Campaigner and former director of conservation at the RSPB



For more information, please contact Hawthorn Advisors:

Johanna Pemberton, Hawthorn Advisors                                                                                       


Tel: +44 (0)20 3745 3820


Charlotte Juckes, Hawthorn Advisors


Tel: +44 (0)20 3745 4973



Notes to Editors:

 About the Environmental Funders Network

The Environmental Funders Network (EFN) is a network of individuals, trusts and family offices that support environmental causes. Donors participate in the network to learn from each other and from experts in the field; the underlying principles of the network are that donors should not have to make philanthropic decisions in a vacuum, and that no one should have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to determining their philanthropic strategy.

With less than five per cent of public donations going to environmental causes, EFN’s aims are twofold: to increase the amount of financial support for environmental causes and to improve the overall effectiveness of this philanthropy.

EFN aims to be the first port of call for anyone hoping to support environmental causes at scale, helping them to maximise the impact of their donations to environmental causes and to understand where the biggest funding gaps are. Any individual, trust or family office providing significant donations to environmental and related causes is welcome to join.


About Earth Day 

Earth Day is a global event taking place every year on the 22nd April. Coordinated events across the world are organized in order to show support for environmental and sustainability issues. Earth Day was first held in 1970 and is now celebrated globally in 193 countries. Each year the Earth Day Network aims to educate and inspire people to change their lifestyle or campaign for a greener and more sustainable planet. On Earth Day 2016 the landmark Paris Agreement was signed by 120 countries worldwide as a commitment to tackle global problems related to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.