On 6th April 2020 Craig Bennett became the new Chief Executive of The Wildlife Trusts. He brings with him huge knowledge and experience of nature conservation issues, campaigning and leadership within the sector. He has been described as “one of the country’s top environmental campaigners” and by The Guardian as “the very model of a modern eco-general”. He has been listed as one of the UK’s top “social media CEOs” and in June 2019 was identified by Onalytica, the influencer marketing company, as the “top influencer driving the debate around sustainability and financial services”.
Craig started as CEO of Friends of the Earth in 2015, following five years as Director of Policy and Campaigns. During Craig’s tenure, he refocussed the organisation on its unique role of empowering communities to take action where they live to protect the planet and using that momentum to tackle the climate and ecological crisis. The impact has seen campaign successes to protect nature and the climate - with the banning of bee-harming pesticides, and securing a moratorium on fracking in England - as well as growth in the movement - including over 170 new community groups set up to fight the climate crisis. He led Friends of the Earth in their battle against the expansion of Heathrow Airport – and in February 2020 the government’s decision to expand Heathrow Airport was ruled ‘unlawful’ by the Court of Appeal on climate change grounds. It was one of the most important environmental law cases in this country for over a generation.
Earlier in his career, Craig was Deputy Director at The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), and Director of The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change (from 2007 to 2010), where he built the group into one of the most influential and progressive business voices in the international climate debate. Before that, he campaigned on corporate accountability, trade, and wildlife issues at Friends of the Earth and on international wildlife crime at the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).
He maintains his links with The University of Cambridge, as Policy Fellow at the Centre for Science and Policy (CsAP), and as a Senior Associate at the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). He has twenty years’ experience of designing and contributing to executive education and leadership programmes at numerous universities and business schools, including the Judge Business School, London Business School, and Duke CE.
Craig is Honorary Professor of Sustainability and Innovation at Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, Chair of the Sustainability and Resilience customer challenge panel for the Anglian Water region (established as part of the OFWAT price review process) and was formerly a member of the Net Positive Board Advisory Panel for Kingfisher plc. From 2013-2015, he was Chair of the Board of Stakeholder Forum. He has a BSc (Hons) in Human and Physical Geography from The University of Reading and an MSc in Biodiversity Conservation from University College London, and an Honorary Doctoral degree from University College of Estate Management (UCEM).
He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (FRGS) and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA). Craig has a policy of not accepting speaking invitations that would result in an all male panel.