Pooran Desai

Pooran Desai

Pooran is an environmentalist and entrepreneur who has worked in sustainability for over three decades. In 1994, he co-founded sustainability organisation, Bioregional, which is responsible for setting-up enterprises in sustainable forestry, organic farming, recycling and real estate development.

At Bioregional, Pooran put together the UK’s first large-scale, mixed-use zero carbon community, Beddington Zero fossil Energy Development or BedZED, which was completed in 2002.The development won numerous awards including from the Royal Institute of British ArchitectsWorld Habitat Awards and Energy Globe Award as the foremost example of sustainable energy in building and housing.

I was helping companies and governments create sustainability strategies. The key was seeing the bigger picture to align everyone and resolve conflicts between different departments and stakeholders. I realised sustainability was about helping everyone see the connections and focus on the outcomes they shared. I wanted to harness digital technology to make 'joining the dots' easier for everyone. That’s why I founded OnePlanet.

A Vision for Sustainability and the SDGs

Pooran has authored or co-authored a number of books including Bioregional Solutions, One Planet Living and One Planet Communities.  He was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, and is a trustee of the Design Council, the UK government’s strategic advisor on design.

Living and working at BedZED, Pooran coined the term ‘One Planet Living‘ (OPL) – how we can lead happy, healthy lives within the resources of our one planet.  He then led Bioregional’s OPL initiative for 18 years, working on more real estate development himself but also leading teams writing sustainability strategies for communities, companies and cities in over 30 countries, including for over $30bn of zero carbon real estate development. The OPL principles were also used to write the sustainability strategy for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which became know as the One Planet Games.

The collaboration which OPL unlocked, created real projects and on-the-ground impact. Then teaming up with the Colombian government to hold the first workshop at the United Nations, Bioregional used the OPL initiative and its principles as the inspiration for what became the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As a result, both the OPL principles and the UN SDGs lie at the heart of the OnePlanet platform.

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