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Chris’ History

A general CV is available here. Below is a summary of the key areas of Chris work over the last 20 years.

Chris Church – background

Chris Church studied environmental biology. After his degree he worked (with limited success) in the music business, focusing on event management, and also trained as a teacher, working at a local college.

Chris became involved in environmental action when a plan was made public to build a nuclear power station at Didcot in 1978. He led a campaign on nuclear power issues on Oxford (where he lived and had studied) and also became involved in the high-profile and successful campaign to stop the M40 extension north of Oxford cutting across Otmoor. This led to him working for Friends of the Earth (England Wales & Northern Ireland) initially as ‘Local Groups Officer’ (FoE had 13 staff when he joined in 1984) and later as Local and Regional Manager (by 1990 FoE had 102 staff and Chris ran a 15 person team).

A desire to work with wider communities led Chris to go freelance in 1990, working with Jan McHarry, as he still does through CEA. Work initially focused on a range of new projects:

  • Helping set up the Environmental Law Foundation (in 1992 – Chris served on the Board for 2 years)
  • Developing Global Action Plan in the UK to the point where it had funds to employ a staff person (1991-93)
  • Running a successful ‘Save The Travelcard’ campaign in 1993 when Government privatisation plans threatened London’s useful integrated travel system. Over 50,000 people contacted their MPs in 3 months.
  • Work with Surfers Against Sewage on the EU Clean Beaches Directive.
  • Helping develop the ’Green Show’ at the National Exhibition Centre in 1991 and 1992.

Local sustainability and community development

At the same time the idea of ‘sustainable development’ was spreading. Chris became heavily involved in the ‘Local Agenda 21’ programme working with many local councils as they looked to build engagement and understanding on sustainability. This work continues and CEA have worked with many councils down the years.

He also became increasingly interested and involved in community development and in the mid-90s became an Associate of the Community Development Foundation (CDF). He has written five publications for CDF, including in 1998 ‘An environment for everyone’ – a first UK review of how environmental action linked to poverty and health issues, and ‘A Better Place to Live’, a guide to sustainable development for community organisations that received the Plain English campaign ‘Crystal mark’. This work ties into work on Environmental Justice.

Research and evaluation

Chris has also worked with CDF staff and Associates on many pieces of consultancy, evaluating programmes for the Lottery and others, and on research work. This includes leading two pieces of work for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (see archived resources).

A desire to answer the question “is all this community action making a difference?” – led Chris to focus on evaluation, and in 2008 to lead work on developing the ‘Changecheck’ programme for Bassac (now Locality) to support community centres in assessing their own impact, following this up in 2011-12 with work for The Conservation Volunteers with Mapping for Change on a community project impact assessment programme.

Voluntary sector work

While working as a consultant Chris has always been actively involved with voluntary sector action. For eight years Chris chaired the London 21 network that supported community-based action on sustainability in London. London 21 linked 1700 organisations in that city and developed the world’s first on-line map of green action in a city and pioneered work with ethnic minority communities. He was also invited to join the London Sustainable Development Commission. Since 2010 Chris has chaired the UK Low Carbon Communities Network (see the ‘Climate and Communities’ page for more information).

European work

Chris has also worked extensively in Europe, initially in eastern Europe in the 1990s after the break-up of the Soviet bloc. Chris helped develop ANPED, the Northern Alliance for Sustainability, one of the first East-West European networks, and chaired the Alliance for seven years. This involved work with the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. Chris was also on the Board of the European EcoForum, an NGO network supported by the European Environment Bureau that focused on NGO engagement in European legislation, notably the ‘Aarhus Convention’ on public participation in environmental decision-making. Chris worked directly with NGOs in Poland, Romania, Ukraine and Slovakia, and acted as NGO expert advisor to a major TACIS EU programme on environmental awareness. He has also carried out project evaluation work in Albania, Macedonia and Kazakhstan.

Health and Environment

Links between health and environment issues remain poorly developed in the UK. This has always been a CEA focus. In 1999 Chris managed the ‘Healthy Planet Forum’ – a three day international conference on environment health interfaces that ran in parallel to a European Ministerial summit on these issues. He has also worked for the World Health Organisation (a manual for local projects) and on various reports with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine including a World Bank report on poverty, environment and health.

Other interests

Chris’s other interests include hill walking, especially in North-West Scotland. He wrote ‘A travellers’ guide to Ullapool and the North-West of Scotland’ (self-published, three editions from 1992 – 1999). He is also a frequent visitor to the smaller Greek islands and happy to recommend less obvious ones. Cultural interests include various forms of contemporary music, the poetry of T.S. Eliot, the more interesting bits of science fiction, and where would we be without Family Guy…..