My public policy and not-for-profit work

Alan has had several public policy and not-for-profit roles and continues with some of them. A selection is:

DEFRA Sustainable Growing Media Task Force

I am Chair of DEFRA’s Peat Task Force which will identify and address supply chain issues across amateur and professional markets and explore measures to deliver DEFRA’s ambition for peat and determine the criteria against which policy will be reviewed. (

The Task Force will produce a detailed roadmap to address barriers in relation to both the supply and demand of peat alternatives, with the aim of reforming the peat supply chain.


I was a commissioner of the Sustainable Development Commission from 2000 to 2009 and during this time I co-chaired the Roundtable for Sustainable Consumption and there we published I will if you will which led to Defra’s ongoing programme of product roadmapping projects. In addition I produced on behalf of the SDC Product Roadmapping and Sustainable Lifestyles.

Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership

I am a senior associate at the CISL and my work has ranged from presentations to workshops to advising on specific issues. I was involved in drafting the White Paper on Natural Resources.


In August 2011 I was appointed non-executive director of WRAP ( WRAP helps individuals and businesses to increase resource efficiency to deliver economic and environmental benefits in the UK.

The Chairman’s initial Report and Roadmap – Towards Sustainable Growing Media – was published in June 2012. (

Completion of the policy review will take place before the end of the current Government spending period, i.e. before March 2015.

I continue as a member of WRAP.

Panellist for the Natural Environment White Paper

I was a member of the advisory panel which published ‘The Natural Choice’ in May 2011, the first White Paper on the natural environment in 20 years. The White Paper also acts on the recommendations of ‘Making Space for Nature’, a report into the state of England’s wildlife sites, led by Professor John Lawton and published in September 2010. (

Independent Panel on Forestry

I served on the Independent Panel on Forestry Policy in England, launched by DEFRA. I, along with other panel members and chair, the Right Reverend James Jones, have been advising DEFRA on the future direction of forestry and woodland policy in England and on the role of the Forestry Commission. The final report was published by DEFRA in July 2012. (


I chaired the Advisory Panel for Consumer Products and the Environment from1998 to 2005. While I was there, three publications led to the creation of government policy on eco-labelling: the car label and house label and ultimately the bedrock of the product forum recently launched by WRAP.

Forest Stewardship Council

I was one of the founding board members of the FSC and later became a director of FSC International. My involvement in FSC has given me tremendous in-depth experience of how certification schemes are developed and implemented. My narrative on certification meltdown discusses the wider issue of certification proliferation but also gives some detail of my experience with the FSC.

Green Light Trust

I was a patron of GLT ( and I was involved with the organisation for 20 years. GLT was inspired by both the beauty of natural rainforests of Papua New Guinea and the fragility of forest communities. The founders created GLT to encourage UK children to value rainforests by planting their own forests in rural locations and inner cities. GLT has helped the forest communities of the Hunstein Range in Papua New Guinea to keep logging companies at bay and has tackled the issues of the risks and benefits of carbon trading and forest projects. The Hunstein Range Support Group creates a direct link between the village chiefs and some of the world’s leading REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation in developing countries) thinkers.

Exeter University and Plymouth University

I have been a visiting professor at Exeter University (, lecturing to students at the business school since 2010 and from 2013 I have also been a visiting professor at Plymouth University Business School.


The Global Association for Corporate Sustainability Officers was set up in 2010 by myself and others who believe that sustainability as a business driver has more relevance than CSR. We also believe that there is a need to create a safe space to share, develop and even codify the role of the sustainability professional. In March 2014 GACSO joined forces with the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment to widen the scope and power base of both organisations. See for more information.