In the news: Tim O'Riordan

August 23, 2002

As world leaders meet for the earth summit in Johannesbur, one advocate of sustainable development will be fighting to make himself heard.

To be sure, Tim O'Riordan, professor of environmental sciences at the University of East Anglia, has proved hard to ignore. When he became active in environmental politics in the 1970s, his arguments on transport, pollution and planning were rejected as radical rants. Thirty years on from the start of Professor O'Riordan's academic career at Simon Fraser University in Canada, his arguments have become far more persuasive.

The 60-year-old scientist, one of the British delegates at next week's summit, now has the ear of British ministers, is influencing European land policy and is a trusted adviser to Prince Charles. Last year, his call for sustained state support for farmers who go organic was applauded by the then agriculture minister, Nick Brown.

Professor O'Riordan's core message is that sustainable development is a necessary course for the future "by which communities can embark on economic development while also benefiting the environment and quality of life" locally and globally. This means bringing together environmental, social and economic aspects of life into one perspective.

Professor O'Riordan has pursued this global goal through his scientific publications, leadership of international research projects and associate directorship of UEA's Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment. In his field, he has championed interdisciplinarity in environmental sciences.

But he has not neglected local issues, with a long-standing and active commitment to the management of the Norfolk Broads.

He is widowed with two daughters, and he plays classical double bass in two Norwich orchestras.

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