Witness Seminar: The Green break-through of 1989: meaning, significance and legacy

Thursday 14th October, 2010
13:30 - 18.30

Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, Malet Street, London (map and directions)

New: 22 February 2011: the video recording of the seminar has now been posted online.

Video Part I - Video Part II

(the transcription of the discussion will follow shortly)

This witness seminar seeks to consider and contextualise the 'break-through' year of 1989 in the British environmental movement, through the testimony of leading figures of the time, and participation from the seminar's audience.

The seminar will examine the remarkable growth of the environmental movement in the late 1980s (seen through the flourishing income, profile and supporter base of leading NGOs such as Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and WWF), culminating in 1989. It will explore how far NGOs were masters of their own destiny, or to what degree they were simply beneficiaries of a unique confluence of trends and circumstances. Finally, it will seek to understand why the break-through was not sustained into the 1990s, and assess what overall significance should be attributed to these years in the history of the British environmental movement.

Witnesses include:

Robin Grove-White (Director, Campaign to Protect Rural England, 1981-1987)
Julia Hales (co-editor, Green Consumer Guide, 1988)
Stephen Joseph (Executive Director, Campaign for Better Transport (Transport 2000), 1988 onwards)
George Medley (Director, WWF-UK, 1978-1993)
Peter Melchett (Executive Director, Greenpeace, 1989-2000)
Sara Parkin (Speaker, Green Party, 1989-1992)
Nicholas Schoon (Environment correspondent, The Independent, 1990-1998)
Charles Secrett (Director, Friends of the Earth, 1993-2002)
Roger Geffen (
London Cycling Campaign, Reclaim the Streets, anti-road protester, 1989-)


13:00 - 13:30: Registration
13.30 - 17.00: Witness Seminar
17.00 - 18.30: Drinks reception

Briefing Paper (PDF) - It would be helpful if all participants could have read this prior to this event.

Places are limited and pre-registration for this event is essential. To register, please contact Herjeet Marway, h.marway@bham.ac.uk  

The seminar is co-convened by the NGOs in Britain project, University of Birmingham, and the Centre for Contemporary British History at King's College, London (CCBH@King's). The convenors of this seminar would like to thank the Leverhulme Trust, for their financial support.

Please note: the purpose of a witness seminar is to provoke a round-table discussion that will allow contemporaries to explain their contribution and reflect upon their experiences, thereby producing material not currently captured by the historical record. The event, including all contributions from the audience, will be recorded and transcribed. Transcripts are sent to all contributors for their approval and contributors can redact their utterances, prior to publication. The approved text will be published and will be made available on the website of the CCBH@King's.

For further details about the event, please contact Herjeet Marway, h.marway@bham.ac.uk 



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