Juniper is everybody's friend

Tony Juniper of Friends of the Earth really has his place in the sun at the moment (and we can be sure he's surrounded by solar panels to put all those valuable rays to good use). He has come a long way since the bad old days when nobody wanted to hear his organisation's planet-saving message - days lived in blissful ignorance of carbon footprints, melting polar ice and the Toyota Prius; days when sustainability was strictly for suburban drop-outs Tom and Barbara in The Good Life.

by Matthew Gwyther, MT editor
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Previously treated by business like broken wind in a lift, the charismatic Juniper is now on everyone's cocktail party list as 2007 becomes the year of dialogue between commerce and green NGOs. Indeed, members of the corporate world threaten to overwhelm those who would prick their conscience. FoE and Greenpeace have the problem of satisfying this surge in demand for help and advice while maintaining their credibility and independence, as companies big and small try to do the right thing by the environment.

They have to handle this dilemma with great care, because a lot of insincere tree-hugging is going on out there at present. Cynical organisations are masters of greenwash and regard engagement with the likes of FoE as a classic neutralising PR technique. Juniper has to manage a network of autonomous local groups that resist any top-down dictates, so he has quite a job on his hands.

One thing in his favour is full staff engagement with the FoE endeavour. Our 'Get Engaged' feature this month is about one of the busiest buzzwords in the HR lexicon. I imagine that those at FoE must all be 100% committed to what they are doing, otherwise they'd be selling their souls to private equity for 20 times the salary. Indeed, the zeal of NGO employees is something that many corporate CEOs must envy.

But zeal is only one part of success. Effective professionalism and proper management are others. It's when the three combine that organisations can really fly.

Finally, a plug for MT's online arm. The new-look website ( is now running on most cylinders, with loads of new stuff that doesn't appear on these pages. And when we get that techie guy downstairs to trip a few switches, you'll be able to send feedback to my blog.

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