Professor Jem Bendell

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A Summary of Some Climate Science in 2018

Posted by jembendell on March 22, 2018

CaptureConversations we have with people about climate change are rarely based on a comprehensive assessment of the current state of knowledge on atmospheric changes and the implications for our environment and society. We receive bits and pieces of news, often shared by friends on Facebook or Twitter, which make us worry for a few moments, before returning to busy daily life. We may think we have already integrated an awareness of climate change into our lives, by the career choice we made, or the way we shop, recycle or don’t eat meat. Most of us are not climate scientists anyway, there’s all kinds of other things to take care of, and we have bills to pay!

That was me, anyway, until this year. I decided to look more closely at the latest information from the range of sciences that give a perspective on our situation. The last time I studied climate closely was in 1994 when I was being taught climate science at Cambridge University. I do not claim to be an expert in any one climate-related field, but as a Professor who has worked and published in a range of disciplines, I have experience in assessing knowledge claims from various sources. In this summary I provide references as much as possible, so you can investigate further.

Many people working in the climate field look to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to provide the calm and authoritative voice on this complicated subject. That is what I used to do, as it made sense as a busy person who wanted to have a quick way of “making the case” to others. However, given that the IPCC has proven over the past decades to be woefully inaccurate in the cautiousness of its predictions, I now agree with some of the most eminent climate scientists that the IPCC cannot be looked to for telling us what the situation is. That is why I spent a few weeks returning to primary sources in academic journals and research institute reports, and piecing together a perspective myself. Given the long time span it takes for data to appear in academic journals, I often turn to the information direct from research institutes and their individual experts. The result of that process follows below.

This is Our World Right Now – not theory!

The simple evidence of global ambient temperature rise is undisputable. Seventeen of the 18 warmest years in the 136-year record all have occurred since 2001, and global temperatures have increased by 0.9°C since 1880 (NASA/GISS, 2018). The most surprising warming is in the Arctic, where the 2016 land surface temperature was 2.0°C above the 1981-2010 average, breaking the previous records of 2007, 2011, and 2015 by 0.8°C, representing a 3.5°C increase since the record began in 1900 (Aaron-Morrison et al, 2017).

The warming of the Arctic reached wider public awareness this year as it has begun destabilizing winds in the higher atmosphere, specifically the jet stream and the northern polar vortex, leading to extreme movements of warmer air north in to the Arctic and cold air to the south. At one point in early 2018, temperature recordings from the Arctic were 20 degrees Celsius above the average for that date (Watts, 2018). The warming Arctic has led to dramatic loss in sea ice, the average September extent of which has been decreasing at a rate of 13.2% per decade since 1980, so that over two thirds of the ice cover has gone (NSIDC/NASA, 2018). This data is made more concerning by changes in sea ice volume, which is an indicator of resilience of the ice sheet to future warming and storms. It was at the lowest it has ever been in 2017, continuing a consistent downward trend (Kahn, 2017).

Given a reduction in the reflection of the Sun’s rays from the surface of white ice, an ice-free Arctic is predicted to increase warming globally by a substantial degree. Writing in 2014 scientists calculated this change is already equivalent to 25% of the direct forcing of temperature increase from CO2 during the past 30 years (Pistone et al, 2014). That means we could cut CO2 emissions by 25% and it is already outweighed by the loss of the reflective power of Arctic sea ice. One of the most eminent climate scientists in the world, Peter Wadhams, believes an ice-free Arctic will occur one summer in the next few years and that it will likely double the warming caused by the CO2 produced by human activity (Wadhams, 2016). In itself, that renders the calculations of the IPCC redundant, along with the targets and proposals of the UNFCCC.

Between 2002 and 2016, Greenland shed approximately 280 gigatons of ice per year, and the island’s lower-elevation and coastal areas experienced up to 13.1 feet (4 meters) of ice mass loss (expressed in equivalent-water-height) over a 14-year period (NASA, 2018). Along with other melting of land ice, and the thermal expansion of water, this has contributed to a global mean sea level rise of about 3.2 mm/year, representing a total increase of over 80 mm, since 1993 (JPL/PO.DAAC, 2018). Stating a figure per year implies a linear increase, which is what has been assumed by IPCC and others in making their predictions. However, recent data shows that the upward trend is non-linear (Malmquist, 2018). That means sea level is rising due to non-linear increases in the melting of land-based ice.

The observed phenomena, of actual temperatures and sea levels, are greater than what the climate models over the past decades were predicting for our current time. They are consistent with non-linear changes in our environment that then trigger uncontrollable impacts on human habitat and agriculture, with subsequent complex impacts on social, economic and political systems. I will return to the implications of these trends after listing some more of the impacts that are already being reported as occurring today.

Already we see impacts on storm, drought and flood frequency and strength due to increased volatility from more energy in the atmosphere (Herring et al, 2018). We are witnessing negative impacts on agriculture. Climate change has reduced growth in crop yields by 1–2 percent per decade over the past century (Wiebe et al, 2015). The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) reports that weather abnormalities related to climate change are costing billions of dollars a year, and growing exponentially. For now, the impact is calculated in money, but the nutritional implications are key (FAO, 2018). We are also seeing impacts on marine ecosystems. About half of the world’s coral reefs have died in the last 30 years, due a mixture of reasons though higher water temperatures and acidification due to higher CO2 concentrations in ocean water being key (, 2018). In ten years prior to 2016 the Atlantic Ocean soaked up 50 percent more carbon dioxide than it did the previous decade, measurably speeding up the acidification of the ocean (Woosely et al, 2016). This study is indicative of oceans worldwide, and the consequent acidification degrades the base of the marine food web, thereby reducing the ability of fish populations to reproduce themselves across the globe (Britten et al, 2015). Meanwhile warming oceans are already reducing the population size of some fish species (Aaron-Morrison et al, 2017). Compounding these threats to human nutrition, in some regions we are witnessing an exponential rise in the spread of mosquito and tick-borne viruses as temperatures become more conducive to them (ECJCR, 2018).

To conclude, this data is consistent with non-linear changes to our environment. Non-linear changes are of central importance to understanding climate change, as they suggest both that impacts will be far more rapid and severe than predictions based on linear projections and that the changes no longer correlate with the rate of anthropogenic carbon emissions. In other words – ‘runaway climate change.’

Looking Ahead

The impacts I just summarised are already upon us and even without increasing their severity they will nevertheless increase their impacts on our ecosystems, soils, seas and our societies over time. It is difficult to predict future impacts. But it is more difficult not to predict them. Because the reported impacts today are at the very worst end of predictions being made in the early 1990s – back when I first studied climate change and model-based climate predictions as an undergraduate at Cambridge University. The models today suggest an increase in storm number and strength (Herring et al, 2018). They predict a decline of normal agriculture, including the compromising of mass production of grains in the northern hemisphere and intermittent disruption to rice production in the tropics. That includes predicted declines in the yields of rice, wheat, and corn in China by 36.25%, 18.26%, and 45.10%, respectively, by the end of this century (Zhang et al, 2016). Naresh Kumar et al. (2014) project a 6–23 and 15–25% reduction in the wheat yield in India during the 2050s and 2080s, respectively, under the mainstream projected climate change scenarios. The loss of coral and the acidification of the seas is predicted to reduce fisheries productivity by over half (Rogers et al, 2017). The rates of sea level rise suggest they may be soon become exponential (Malmquist, 2018), which will pose significant problems for billions of people living in coastal zones (Neumann et al, 2015).

Environmental scientists are now describing our current era as the sixth mass extinction event in the history of planet Earth, with this one caused by us. About half of all plants and animal species in the world’s most biodiverse places are at risk of extinction due to climate change (WWF, 2018). The World Bank reported in 2018 that countries needed to prepare for over 100 million internally displaced people due to the effects of climate change (Rigaud et al, 2018), in addition to millions of international refugees. This situation has led some commentators to describe our time as a new geological era shaped by humans – the Anthropocene (Hamilton, et al, 2015). It has led others to conclude that we should be exploring how to live in an unstable post-Sustainability situation (Benson and Craig, 2014; Foster, 2015).

The politically permissible scientific consensus is that we need to stay beneath 2 degrees warming of global ambient temperatures, to avoid dangerous and uncontrollable levels of climate change, with impacts such as mass starvation, disease, flooding, storm destruction, forced migration and war. That figure was agreed by governments that were dealing with many domestic and international pressures from vested interests, particularly corporations. It is therefore not a figure that many scientists would advise, given that many ecosystems will be lost and many risks created if we approach 2 degrees global ambient warming (Wadhams, 2018). The IPCC agreed in 2013 that if the world does not keep further anthropogenic emissions below a total of 800 billion tonnes of carbon we are not likely to keep average temperatures below 2 degrees of global averaged warming. That left about 270 billion tonnes of carbon to burn (Pidcock, 2013). Total global emissions remain at around 11 billion tonnes of carbon year (which is 37 billion tonnes of CO2). Those calculations appear worrying but give the impression we have at least a decade to change. It takes significant time to change economic systems and so if we are not already on the path to dramatic reductions it is unlikely we will keep within the carbon limit. With an increase of carbon emissions of 2% in 2017, the decoupling of economic activity from emissions is not yet making a net dent in global emissions (Canadell et al, 2017). So, we are not on the path to prevent going over 2 degrees warming through emissions reductions. In any case the IPCC estimate of a carbon budget was controversial with many scientists who estimated that existing CO2 in the atmosphere should already produce global ambient temperature rises over 5°C and so there is no carbon budget – it has already been overspent (Wasdell, 2015).

That situation is why some experts have argued for more work on removing carbon from the atmosphere with machines. Unfortunately, the current technology needs to be scaled by a factor of 2 million times within 2 years, all powered by renewables, alongside massive emission cuts, to reduce the amount of heating already locked into the system (Wadhams, 2018). Biological approaches to carbon capture appear far more promising (Hawken and Wilkinson, 2017). These include planting trees, restoring soils used in agriculture, growing seagrass and kelp, amongst other approaches. They also offer wider beneficial environmental and social side effects. Studies on seagrass (Greiner et al, 2013) and seaweed (Flanery, 2015) indicate we could be taking millions of tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere immediately and continually if we had a massive effort to restore seagrass meadows and to farm seaweed. The net sequestration effect is still being assessed but in certain environments will be significant (Howard et al, 2017).

Research into “management-intensive rotational grazing” practices (MIRG), also known as holistic grazing, show how a healthy grassland can store carbon. A 2014 study measured annual per-hectare increases in soil carbon at 8 tons per year on farms converted to these practices. The world uses about 3.5 billion hectares of land for pasture and fodder crops. Using the 8 tons figure above, converting a tenth of that land to MIRG practices would sequester a quarter of present emissions. In addition, no-till methods of horticulture can sequester as much as two tons of carbon per hectare per year, so could also make significant contributions. It is clear, therefore, that our assessment of carbon budgets must focus as much on these agricultural systems as we do on emissions reductions.

Clearly a massive campaign and policy agenda to transform agriculture and restore ecosystems globally is needed right now. It will be a huge undertaking, undoing 60 years of developments in world agriculture. In addition, it means the conservation of our existing wetlands and forests must suddenly become successful, after decades of failure across lands outside of geographically limited nature reserves. Even if such will emerges immediately, the heating and instability already locked into the climate will cause damage to ecosystems, so it is will be difficult for such approaches to curb the global atmospheric carbon level. The reality that we have progressed too far already to avert disruptions to ecosystems is highlighted by the finding that if CO2 removal from the atmosphere could work at scale, it would not prevent massive damage to marine life, which is locked in for many years due to acidification from the dissolving of CO2 in the oceans (Mathesius et al, 2015).

Despite the limitations of what humans can do to work with nature to encourage its carbon sequestration processes, the planet has been helping us out anyway. A global “greening” of the planet has significantly slowed the rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since the start of the century. Plants have been growing faster and larger due to higher CO2 levels in the air and warming temperatures that reduce the CO2 emitted by plants via respiration. The effects led the proportion of annual carbon emissions remaining in the air to fall from about 50% to 40% in the last decade. However, this process only offers a limited effect, as the absolute level of CO2 in the atmosphere is continuing to rise, breaking the milestone of 400 parts per million (ppm) in 2015. Given that changes in seasons, temperatures extremes, flood and drought are beginning to negatively affect ecosystems, the risk exists that this global greening effect may be reduced in time (Keenan et al, 2016)

These potential reductions in atmospheric carbon from natural and assisted biological processes is a flickering ray of hope in our dark situation. However, the uncertainty about their impact needs to be contrasted with the uncertain yet significant impact of increasing methane release in the atmosphere. It is a gas that enables far more trapping of heat from the sun’s rays than CO2 but was ignored in most of the climate models over the past decades. The authors of the 2016 Global Methane Budget report found that in the early years of this century, concentrations of methane rose by only about 0.5ppb each year, compared with 10ppb in 2014 and 2015. Various sources were identified, from fossil fuels, to agriculture to melting permafrost (Saunois et al, 2016).

Given the controversy around this topic in the scientific community, it may even be contentious for me to say that there is no scientific consensus on the sources of current methane emissions or the potential risk and timing of significant methane releases from either surface and subsea permafrost. A recent attempt at consensus on methane risk from melting surface permafrost concluded methane release would happen over centuries or millennia, not this decade (Schuur et al. 2015). Yet within three years that consensus was broken by one of the most detailed experiments which found that if the melting permafrost remains waterlogged, which is likely, then it produces significant amounts of methane within just a few years (Knoblauch et al, 2018). The debate is now likely to be about whether other microorganisms might thrive in that environment to eat up the methane – and whether or not in time to reduce the climate impact.

The debate about methane release from clathrate forms, or frozen methane hydrates, on the Arctic sea floor is even more contentious. In 2010 a group of scientists published a study that warned how the warming of the Arctic could lead to a speed and scale of methane release that would be catastrophic to life on earth through atmospheric heating of over 5 degrees within just a few years of such a release (Shakhova et al, 2010). The study triggered a fierce debate, much of which was ill considered, perhaps understandably given the shocking implications of this information (Ahmed, 2013). Since then, key questions at the heart of this scientific debate (about what would amount to the probable extinction of the human race) include the amount of time it will take for ocean warming to destabilise hydrates on the sea floor, and how much methane will be consumed by aerobic and anaerobic microbes before it reaches the surface and escapes to the atmosphere. In a global review of this contentious topic, scientists concluded that there is not the evidence to predict a sudden release of catastrophic levels of methane in the near-term (Ruppel and Kessler, 2017). However, a key reason for their conclusion was the lack of data showing actual increases in atmospheric methane at the surface of the Arctic, which is partly the result of a lack of sensors collecting such information. Most ground-level methane measuring systems are on land. Could that be why the unusual increases in atmospheric methane concentrations cannot be fully explained by existing data sets from around the world (Saunois et al, 2016)? One way of calculating how much methane is probably coming from our oceans is to compare data from ground level measurements, which are mostly but not entirely on land, with upper atmosphere measurements, which indicate an averaging out of total sources. Data published by scientists from the Arctic News (2018) website indicates that in March 2018 at mid altitudes, methane was around 1865 parts per billion (ppb), which represents a 1.8 percent increase of 35 ppb from the same time in 2017, while surface measurements of methane increased by about 15 ppb in that time. Both figures are consistent with a non-linear increase – potentially exponential – in atmospheric levels since 2007. That is worrying data in itself, but the more significant matter is the difference between the increase measured at ground and mid altitudes. That is consistent with this added methane coming from our oceans, which could in turn be from methane hydrates.

This closer look at the latest data on methane is worthwhile given the critical risks to which it relates. It suggests that the recent attempt at a consensus that it is highly unlikely we will see near term massive release of methane from the Arctic Ocean is sadly inconclusive. In 2017 scientists working on the Eastern Siberian sea shelf, reported that the permafrost layer has thinned enough to risk destabilising hydrates (The Artic, 2017). That report of subsea permafrost destabilisation in the East Siberian Arctic sea shelf, the latest unprecedented temperatures in the Arctic, and the data in non-linear rises in high-atmosphere methane levels, combine to make it feel like we are about to play Russian Roulette with the entire human race, with already two bullets in the chamber. Nothing is certain. But it is sobering that humanity has arrived at a situation of our own making where we now debate the strength of analyses of our near-term extinction.

Apocalypse Uncertain

The truly shocking information on the trends in climate change and its impacts on ecology and society are leading some to call for us to experiment with geoengineering the climate, from fertilizing the oceans so they photosynthesize more CO2, to releasing chemicals in the upper atmosphere so the Sun’s rays are reflected. The unpredictability of geoengineering the climate through the latter method, in particular the dangers of disturbances to seasonal rains that billions of people rely on, make it unlikely to be used (Keller et al, 2014). The potential natural geoengineering from increased sulphur releases from volcanoes due to isostatic rebound as weight on the Earth’s crust is redistributed is not likely to make a significant contribution to earth temperatures for decades or centuries.

It is a truism that we do not know what the future will be. But we can see trends. We do not know if the power of human ingenuity will help sufficiently to change the environmental trajectory we are on. Unfortunately, the recent years of innovation, investment and patenting indicate how human ingenuity has increasingly been channelled into consumerism and financial engineering. We might pray for time. But the evidence before us suggests that we are set for disruptive and uncontrollable levels of climate change, bringing starvation, destruction, migration, disease and war.

We do not know for certain how disruptive the impacts of climate change will be or where will be most affected, especially as economic and social systems will respond in complex ways. But the evidence is mounting that the impacts will be catastrophic to our livelihoods and the societies that we live within. Our norms of behaviour, that we call our “civilisation,” may also degrade. When we contemplate this possibility, it can seem abstract. The words I ended the previous paragraph with may seem, subconsciously at least, to be describing a situation to feel sorry about as we witness scenes on TV or online. But when I say starvation, destruction, migration, disease and war, I mean in your own life. With the power down, soon you wouldn’t have water coming out of your tap. You will depend on your neighbours for food and some warmth. You will become malnourished. You won’t know whether to stay or go. You will fear being violently killed before starving to death.

What Now Then?

My conclusion from analysing the latest climate science is that we can ask ourselves questions about what is fundamentally important to us in our own lives. We are being confronted by our own mortality and that of everything we could contribute to. That reflection and reorientation is not a simple or fast process, and I recommend it is explored in community. Share this blog with friends and talk to them. I recommend Dark Mountain Facebook group as one place for that. I would like to recommend other very popular Facebook groups on this topic, but I have found them to reflect a lot of repressed anger. My own hope is that we can cultivate love within this darkness.

Then there is the broader question of how we could help our communities, countries and humanity adapt to the coming troubles. I have dubbed this the “Deep Adaptation Agenda,” to contrast it with the limited scope of current climate adaptation activities. I have created a LinkedIn group for people who work in related areas in a professional capacity.

All manner of personal and institutional pressures and incentives work towards making us ignore or de-prioritise the kind of information and analysis I have presented above. It will be difficult not to be seduced by those who make us think we have more time, or that things aren’t so bad, or that planting more kelp will save us. It will also be difficult to avoid seduction by those saying that praying will help fix things, or that this tragedy can be welcomed as God’s moment of return. Instead, I recommend exploring what is your heart’s desire after you relinquish concern for either conformity, certainty, status, security or self-preservation. That’s probably how we should approach life anyway… Oops. Not to late for that then!

I have written in length about my own journey on this issue here. I was interviewed by Dark Mountain about it here.

I will be exploring implications of this information for our own agency as professionals in a Sustainable Leadership course. Info here.

My thanks to Chris Erskine at Seedbed and Dougald Hine at Dark Mountain for encouraging me to prioritise this path.


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Ahmed, N. (2013) Seven facts you need to know about the Arctic methane timebomb, The Guardian, Monday 5 August.
Arctic News (2018) Warning Signs, Arctic News Blog Post, 3rd March.
Benson, M. and Craig, R. (2014) ‘The End of Sustainability’, Society and Natural Resources 27; 777-782
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Kahn, B. (2017) The Arctic Has Been Crazy Warm All Year. This Is What It Means for Sea Ice, July 6th,
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Kristina Pistone, Ian Eisenman and V. Ramanathan (2014) Observational determination of albedo decrease caused by vanishing Arctic sea ice, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
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Pep Canadell, Corinne Le Quéré, Glen Peters, Robbie Andrew, Rob Jackson and Vanessa Haverd (2017) Fossil fuel emissions hit record high after unexpected growth: Global Carbon Budget 2017 (2018) Scientists say Earth is undergoing a “mass extinction event”, the first since the dinosaurs disappeared some 65 million years ago, and only the sixth in the last half-a-billion years.
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Funded PhD on Local Currencies

Posted by jembendell on December 26, 2017

Fully funded full time PhD on local currencies in stunning Cumbria, supervised by me, Prof Jem Bendell

Closing date: midnight 18 February 2018

The Lake District Pound (LD£) initiative is the context within which the research project will be carried out. This is an innovation in local currency that builds on the prior work and positive outcomes of other complimentary currency initiatives in the UK and globally. The LD£ will operate alongside sovereign Sterling currency with a more direct purpose to support the local rural economy.

This initiative will utilise a range of innovative methods to adapt and extend the idea of a ‘currency with a purpose’ to a rural context with a unique demographic including for the first time a National Park. A core aim of the initiative is to shift visitor spending from using large external businesses (e.g. online retailers and travel companies, remote delivery services, etc.) towards local companies and communities. The anticipated impact is to retain more wealth in the region to fund social and environmental projects and through the local focus and supply chains deliver measureable environmental benefits.
The LD£ initiative has a number of short and long-term aims, which will be greatly enabled through this research project. The aim of the research project is to provide a foundation and framework for measuring the success of the local currency initiative and from that measure, to identify optimum practice and future direction to improve such local currency initiatives.

The PhD research topic is the development of a framework for evaluation of the impact of the Lake District Pound and generation of data on that impact. This evaluation must include indicators of economic impacts, as well as social, cultural and environmental impacts. The evaluation needs to involve quantitative metrics, but can also include more qualitative assessments. It is a multidisciplinary study, with the candidate being able to draw upon a range of fields in consultation with the supervisor (for instance, potential insights from sociology, accounting, corporate sustainability, voluntary sector and organisation studies).

The PhD researcher will work with The Lakes Currency Project Ltd as well as conducting the research for the PhD – and will be based in the stunning Lake District National Park.

The Lakes Currency Project Ltd is the organisation behind the introduction and support of the ‘Lake District Pound’. It is incorporated as a private entity following the guidelines of a Community Interest Company to drive the LD£ initiative as a commercially sustainable project. The generation of revenue from the initiative will be directed in joint partnership with the Lake District Foundation to support vital sustainability projects in and around the National Park, and the Cumbria Community Foundation to support critical projects to help the poorer local communities. Their long-term aim is to develop an element of autonomy and economic resilience within the Lake District and surrounding communities in response to the continually increasing impact of global tourism that often serves to impoverish rural areas.


Full-time PhD – annual tax-free stipend of £15,000 p.a. for 3 years
Tuition fees paid for by the industry sponsor (Home/EU fee)

The PhD is supported by the ERDF funded Eco-innovation Cumbria project led by the University of Cumbria.

Application process

To apply please visit the website for details of the entry requirements which must be met and to access the application form. Under the Research Proposal section of the form please summarise your approach to the proposed project outlined in this advert under the following headings: General Overview of Area, Identification of the Relevant Literature, Key Research Questions, Methodology, Timescale/Research Planning

Please include a covering letter telling us why you want to study for a PhD, what interests you about this project and highlight the skills and experience you will bring. Give the title of your research proposal as: “The Lake District Pound: Developing Local Sustainability through Economic Innovation in a Rural Context”

For any queries relating to admissions please contact Research Student Admissions

If you wish to find out more about the project in the first instance please contact: Ken Royall, Chief Executive, The Lakes Currency Project Ltd. or Dr David Murphy, Institute for Leadership and Sustainability, University of Cumbria or

Closing date: midnight 18 February 2018

Interviews to be conducted 26th February 2018 in Ambleside, Cumbria. Candidates will be required to give a short presentation on their approach to the research proposal. Strong candidates may be given the option for an interview by video conference.

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What after we stop pretending? Quarterly 11

Posted by jembendell on December 1, 2017

Hello from Athens where I’ve started my sabbatical year researching a book and supporting an NGO creating systems for local currencies that enable the solidarity economy.


Have you ever wondered what we might do if we stopped pretending we can prevent climate change from wreaking havoc? Next summer I’m hosting a retreat for environmentalists who sense despair at the current trends. It’s at the Kalikalos eco-retreat in Greece, a spin off from the Findhorn centre in the UK. The retreat explores the contours of the deep adaptation agenda (from personal to political). Please get in touch with me if this resonates and you are considering joining us (dr j  bendell at gmail).

The retreat builds on what I have learned by teaching the University of Cumbria’s sustainable leadership courses. I summarise the ideas on leadership which underpin those courses in a new journal article. I really enjoy what my students do once freed from the cautious narratives of incremental (often inconsequential) change. One of our new graduates, Julie Hutchison, was featured last week for launching a new charity trustee training programme. We are taking applications now for the September 2018 intake of this course. We are also keen to hear from organisations that could sponsor the student fees, so we could offer free places to people with potential to create major change.

Another of our students, Cheryl Clarke, is part of a team which today launches a pre-sale on a new blockchain platform and token, with the smallish aim of disrupting Hollywood! This field of crypto currencies has boomed in 2017. Previously I was only contacted about currency innovation by people with a passion for crazy ideas or creating change. My inbox now bulges with people serious about the commercial and investment opportunities. It makes writing a book about the future of money an interesting challenge. I’m currently sorting out which are my favourite blockchain projects and related start-ups and how I will support them (so watch this space). Certainly there are many better approaches than bitcoin, which has a horrible and unnecessary carbon footprint.

I’m really looking forward to the leadership conference we, that’s IFLAS, are hosting in the Lake District next September. The deadline for submitting an abstract for either a paper, poster or a workshop is January 30th. The conference is FREE, and is hosted with Crossfields Institute and Alanus University. Stunning location, fab keynotes, highly interactive, some stuff outdoors, cutting edge insights on heartfelt approaches to professional development. You should come. But the only way to make sure you have a place is to submit your idea now.

Volcano permitting, my research takes me to Bali for 3 months from January 1st. If you are volcanologist, maybe I’ll see you there?

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This personal is political – Jem’s Quarterly #10

Posted by jembendell on July 31, 2017

I used to avoid party politics. I thought it wouldn’t be a way to promote positive change, because political leaders would only consider options framed by national vested interests and international finance. Instead, I focused on the contexts around political parties, such as increasingly public awareness of key issues, promoting change in the practices of business and financial institutions, and supporting alternatives at the grassroots. This year, that changed for me.  As my University role is part time, I took an opportunity to support the office of the Leader of the Opposition in the UK. For the first time in my life, I saw the potential for a mainstream political party in the UK to engage with wider social movements for a sustainable transformation.

A lot has been said about the current leadership and direction of the Labour Party, and of left-wing politics in general. Nothing beats hearing directly from the people involved. So, for a sense of his philosophy on leadership and change, I recommend a speech Jeremy Corbyn MP gave in London on April 29th called “Stepping Up for Britain”. For an insight into the economic approach Labour proposed, I recommend a speech in May from John McDonnell MP, the Shadow Chancellor. For Corbyn’s views on security and foreign policy I recommend the latter half of a speech he gave some days after the terrible bombing in Manchester. I was pleased to work with them on those speeches, during my support for the election campaign.

The result of the election was one step forward in the process of establishing a broad left agenda for the future of economy and society. Nevertheless, there remains much to be done in the UK, Europe and elsewhere for governments to enable people to improve their lives and communities in a rapidly changing world.

In other news:

2017 marks 20 years since my first book was published! With Dr David Murphy, we looked at collaborations for sustainable development in the book “In the Company of Partners.” To mark this anniversary, I gave an open lecture at the University of Cumbria, which you can watch here. My article of reflections on what has happened on this topic over the last 20 years is available in Issue 66 of the Journal of Corporate Citizenship.

I recorded a video to promote our free online Money and Society MOOC, which starts again on August 19th. You can read more about it and sign up at

CCCIn May, with Matthew Slater, we presented a paper on the future of complementary currencies in an age of blockchains at the joint academic-practitioner RAMICS conference in Barcelona. We also outlined a new initiative to create the protocols and tools for the massive scaling of socially useful new currencies. We then presented these ideas to participants and supporters of the social and solidarity economy at a RIPESS event in Athens. In my next update, I will outline the shape of this effort, which federates over 300 local currencies into one initiative. For some of the philosophical background see

From September, I am taking a year-long sabbatical to (attempt to) write a popular book that will convey some of the things I work towards. The project will take me through London, Valencia, Athens, Geneva, Milan, Manila and Bali, so if in any of these locations, it would be great to hear from you.

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Jem’s Quarterly #9 – Lead collaborations for meaningful change

Posted by jembendell on April 26, 2017

I will keep it quick this quarter and focus on the resources and opportunities now available to you on sustainable leadership, collaboration, and currency innovation.


My paper on a needed revolution in collaboration between business and NGOs will appear in the JCC academic journal in June. I wrote this to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the publication of my first book, In the Company of Partners. I gave a lecture about that to our international MBA students and invited guests, and it’s been nicely produced here.

The next course offer from IFLAS on this topic is the “Skills for Leading Teams” course over 3 days in June. That is a wonderful time to visit the Lake District. Led by IFLAS Doctoral Researcher Jo Chaffer, the course will be a special experience and I look forward to seeing some of you there. The module is also part of our MA in Leadership Development. The foundational 6-day residential for that is also in the Lake District, and starts 12th September.

Sustainable Leadership

The special issue of the SAMPJ academic journal is now complete and will appear in September. It features a paper “Beyond Unsustainable Leadership” which I wrote with Richard Little (Impact International) and Dr Neil Sutherland (UWE). I will present this in Carlisle on July 17th. My research in leadership has been recognized with a prize from a Swiss institute, who will host me in June to discuss implications for leadership within the United Nations system.

Our number of doctoral students focusing on these topics grows, with Aimee Leslie of WWF joining us to explore how leaders in the environmental sector interpret the tragedies as well as successes in this line of work. Speaking of environmental tragedy, the video for my talk at Griffith University on getting real about what troubles climate change presents us is online here.

The Institute continues to animate discussion on these topics, with former RGS VP and TV personality Paul Rose and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood both speaking about sustainable leadership on our Ambleside Campus this summer. These are some of the 10 free public events IFLAS is organising to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the University of Cumbria.

If you are wondering how we approach sustainability and why we think the heritage and landscape of the Lake District matters in what we do, I recommend my Inaugural Lecture, and some thoughts I shared on our research at IFLAS.

Currency Innovation

In March, more people completed our free Money and Society MOOC than ever before. We hosted 30 of them at a summit in London, which was also part of our PGC in Sustainable Leadership. We are delighted the Finance Lab also offered one free fellowship for 6 months for alumni of our MOOC. We look forward to hosting them on their retreat in the Lake District this summer.

In May I will be presenting a paper on the future of complementary currencies in an age of blockchains at the joint academic-practitioner RAMICS conference in Barcelona. We will be explaining the proposal for a new Credit Commons Collective to create the protocols and tools for the massive scaling of socially useful new currencies. I’m also helping organise a workshop there for PhD researchers and then, a first for me, helping with a hackathon to develop some of the software that is needed. I’m pleased to be working with my PhD student Leander Bindewald and MOOC colleague Matthew Slater on these efforts.

I have long advocated these solutions for Greece, and in June will be presenting the ideas and tools with Matthew to community groups and local government at the RIPESS event in Athens and then will guest lecture on a course a few hours north near Volos, with the commercial barter guru Tom Greco (course info here).

The common theme of all this stuff is enabling people to lead collaboration for  meaningful change in an unstable environment. I hope to continue doing that in various ways, new and old, in the coming years.


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Publications by Jem Bendell

Posted by jembendell on January 9, 2017

This is a rolling list of all my publications, which I will endeavour to keep up to date. Many of the references have links to the actual publications (I will add more over time).  

Books and Refereed UN Reports

Bendell, J. and A. Miller (2015) Enhancing the Contribution of Export Processing Zones to the Sustainable Development Goals, UNCTAD, Geneva.

Bendell, J., W. Ruddick and M. Slater (2015) Re-imagining Money to Broaden the Future of Development Finance: What Kenyan Community Currencies Reveal is Possible for Financing Development, Working Paper 2015-10, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), Geneva. Download here.

Bendell, J. and I. Doyle (2014) Healing Capitalism, Greenleaf Publishing, Sheffield, UK.

Bendell, J. (2011) Evolving Partnerships: A Guide to Working With Business for Greater Social Change, Greenleaf Publishing: Sheffield, UK.

Bendell, J. and A. Ellersiek (2009) Noble Networks: Advocacy for Global Justice and the “Network Effect”, Programme Paper, UNRISD, Geneva.

Bendell, J. et al (2009) The Corporate Responsibility Movement, Greenleaf Publishing: Sheffield, UK.

Bendell, J. (2006) Debating NGO Accountability, Development Dossier, United Nations NGLS, Geneva.

Bendell, J. (2004a) Barricades and Boardrooms: A Contemporary History of the Corporate Accountability Movement, Programme Paper 13, UNRISD, Geneva

Bendell, J. (2003d) Waking Up to Risk: Corporate Responses to HIV/AIDS in Developing Countries, Programme Paper 12, UNRISD

Bendell, J. (ed.) (2000a) Terms for Endearment: Business, NGOs and Sustainable Development, Greenleaf: Sheffield, UK

Murphy D. F. and Bendell, J (1999) Partners in Time? UNRISD Discussion Paper 109, UNRISD: Geneva

Murphy D.F. and J. Bendell (1997) In the Company of Partners: Business, Environmental Groups and Sustainable Development Post-Rio, Policy Press: Bristol, UK


Refereed Journal Articles

Ruddick, W., Richards, M. and Bendell, J. (2015) ‘Complementary Currencies for Sustainable Development in Kenya: The Case of the Bangla-Pesa’ International Journal of Community Currency Research, 19.  ISSN 1325-9547. Download here.

Bendell, J. and R. Little (2015b) ‘Seeking Sustainability Leadership’, Journal of Corporate Citizenship, Issue 60, pp. 13-26(14). Download here.

Bendell, J and L. Thomas (2013) ‘The Appearance of Elegant Disruption: Theorising Sustainable Luxury Entrepreneurship’ in The Journal of Corporate Citizenship, Issue 52.

Bendell, J., A. Miller, and K. Wortmann (2011) “Public Policies for Scaling Corporate Responsibility Standards: expanding collaborative governance for sustainable development”, in Sustainability, Accounting, Management & Policy Journal, Volume 1, Issue 2.

Bendell, J., Eva Collins and Juliet Roper (2010) ‘Beyond partnerism: toward a more expansive research agenda on multi-stakeholder collaboration for responsible business’, in Business Strategy and the Environment, Volume 19, Issue 6,  pages 351–355, September.

Bendell, J. (2010) ‘What if we are Failing? Towards a Post-crisis Agenda for the Global Compact’, in The Journal of Corporate Citizenship, No. 37.

Bendell, J. and C. Ng (2009) ‘Characteristics of Asian CSR’, Social Space, Issue 2, Singapore Management Uni, Singapore. p56-61 Bendell, J. and I. Chawla (2007) ‘The South and Carbon Dioxide: Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining’, Finance and Common Good, 27.

Bendell, J and C. Valor (2006) ‘Hacia una responsabilidad social «responsable»: análisis de la legitimidad de las iniciativas multi-stakeholders’, Revista Principios,  Número 5 (Mayo 2005).**

Bendell, J. (2005) Beyond Accountability, in Accountability Forum, 7: 34 – 41

Bendell, J. & Kearins, K. (2005). ‘The ‘political bottom line’: The emerging dimension to corporate responsibility for sustainable development’, Business Strategy and the Environment, 14 (6), 372-383.

Bendell, J., 2005, ‘In Whose Name? The Accountability of Corporate Social Responsibility’ in Development in Practice, Volume 15, Numbers 3 & 4, June, p362-374.

Bendell, J. and Font X (2004) ‘Which Tourism Rules? Green Standards and GATS’, in Annals of Tourism Research, Volume 31, Issue 1, January 2004, Pages 139-156

Prieto, M., J. Bendell and R. Shah (2003) ‘Women Speak about Corporate Responsibility from Factories and Plantations in Central America’ New Academy Review, Volume 1, Number 4

Bendell, J. (2001e) ‘Civil Regulation – How Nonprofits are Co-Regulating Business in a Global Economy’, Non-Profit Quarterly, Volume 8, Issue 4, Winter 2001

Bendell J. (ed.), (1998) Greener Management International, special issue ‘Business-NGO Relations and Sustainable Development’, Issue 24, Greenleaf Publishing: Sheffield, UK

Bendell J. & Murphy DF (1997) “Strange Bedfellows: Business & Environmental Groups” in Business & Society Review, Washington.


Book Chapters

Bendell, J. (2015) ‘What if we are failing? Towards a post Crisis agenda for the Global Compact’, in McIntosh, M. ed (2015) Business, Capitalism and Corporate Citizenship: A Collection of Seminal Essays, Greenleaf Publishing, Sheffield. Download here.

Bendell, J. and T. Greco (2013) Currencies of Transition, in McIntosh ed (2013) The Necessary Transition, Greenleaf Publishing: Sheffield, UK.

Bendell, J. and A. Ellersiek (2012), Advocacy for Corporate Accountability and Trade Justice: The Role of “Noble Networks” in the United Kingdom, in Global Justice Activism and Policy Reform in Europe: Understanding When Change Happens, Edited by Anne Ellersiek, Mario Pianta and Peter Utting, Routledge.

Bendell, J. and A. Ellersiek (2012) The Potential and Practice of Civic Networks, in Global Justice Activism and Policy Reform in Europe: Understanding When Change Happens, Edited by Anne Ellersiek, Mario Pianta and Peter Utting. Routledge.

Bendell, J, Jay P. and M. Bendell. (2010) “These Pages Have Been Regulated for You: Issues Arising from the Governance of markets by NGOs” in Steffek, Jens and Kristina Hahn. (2010) Evaluating Transnational NGOs: Legitimacy, Accountability, Representation. New York: Palgrave, Macmillan. P 129-156.

Bendell, J (2010) Back to the Future of Luxury, in Giron, ME (2010) Inside Luxury: The Growth and Future of the Luxury Goods Industry: A View from the Top, LID Editorial. ISBN: 9781907794094

Bendell, J (2010) ‘Prologue’, in Giron, M.E. (2009) Secretos de Lujo, LID Editorial, Madrid, Spain. Bendell, J (2007a) ‘La responsabilidad de las organizaciones’, in La comunicación de las grandes empresas gira hacia la gestión de intangibles y el enfoque relacional, Informe 2007, Pearson Prentice Hall, Madrid.

Bendell, J and M. Bendell (2007) ‘Facing Corporate Power’, in Steven K. May, George Cheney, and Juliet Roper (eds) The Debate Over Corporate Social Responsibility, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.

Bendell, J and P. Cox (2006) ‘The Donor Accountability Agenda’, in Lisa Jordan and Peter van Tuijl (eds) NGO Accountability:  Politics, Principles and Innovations, Earthscan: London, UK.

Bendell, J. and A. Sharma (2006) The Civil Regulation of Corporations: Towards Stakeholder Democracy, in S. Benn and D. Dunphy. (Eds.). (2006). Corporate Governance and Sustainablity: Challenges for Theory and Practice. London: Routledge.

Bendell, J. (2004b) ‘Flags of Inconvenience? The Global Compact and the Future of the United Nations, in M. McIntosh’, G. Kell and S. Waddock eds. (2004) Learning To Talk, Greenleaf Publishing, Sheffield.

Murphy, D. F. and J. Bendell (2002) ‘New Partnerships for Sustainable Development: The Changing Nature of Business-NGO Relations’, in Utting, P. The Greening of Business in Developing Countries Rhetoric, Reality and Prospects, Zed Books: London, UK

Bendell, J. and D. F. Murphy (2002) ‘Towards Civil Regulation: NGOs and the Politics of Corporate Environmentalism’ in Utting, P. The Greening of Business in Developing Countries Rhetoric, Reality and Prospects, Zed Books: London, UK

Bendell, J. (2003b) ‘Talking for Change? Reflections on Effective Stakeholder Dialogue’, in Unfolding Stakeholder Thinking 2: Relationships, Communication, Reporting and Performance, by J. Andriof, S. Waddock, B. Husted, and S. Rahman, Greenleaf.

Bendell, J. and Murphy D. F. (2001) ‘Getting Engaged: Business-NGO Relations on Sustainable Development’, in Welford R. and Starkey R, (2001) Earthscan Reader in Business and Sustainable Development, Earthscan: London, UK

Bendell, J. (2000e) ‘Rainforest Alliance and Chiquita Brands in Costa Rica: Lessening Environmental and Social Impacts of Banana Monoculture’ in S. Heap (2000) NGOs Engaging Business: A World of Difference and a Difference to the World, INTRAC:Oxford,UK

Bendell, J. (2000c) ‘Jenseits der Selbstregulation von Umweltmanagement: Einige Gedanken zur wachsenden Bedeutung von Business-NGO-Partnerschaft’ in K. Fichter and U. Schneidewind  (Hrsg.) Umweltschutz im globalen Wettbewerb, neue Spielregeln für das grenzenlose Unternehmen, Springer-Verlag: Berlin

Lake, R. and J. Bendell (2000) ‘New frontiers: emerging NGO activities to strengthen transparency and accountability in business’ in J. Bendell, J. (ed.) (2000) Terms for Endearment: Business, NGOs and Sustainable Development, Greenleaf: Sheffield, UK

Plante, C. and J. Bendell (2000) ‘The art of collaboration: emerging business-NGO relations in Asia’ in Bendell, J (2000c) ‘Civil regulation: a new form of democratic governance for the global economy?’ in J. Bendell, J. (ed.) (2000) Terms for Endearment: Business, NGOs and Sustainable Development, Greenleaf: Sheffield, UK

Murphy, D. and J. Bendell (2000) ‘Planting the seeds of change: business-NGO relations and tropical deforestation’ in J. Bendell, J. (ed.) (2000) Terms for Endearment: Business, NGOs and Sustainable Development, Greenleaf: Sheffield, UK

Bendell, J (2000b) ‘No win-win situation? GMO, NGOs and sustainable development’ in J Bendell, (ed.) (2000) Terms for Endearment: Business, NGOs and Sustainable Development, Greenleaf: Sheffield, UK

Murphy D. F. and Bendell, J. (1998) ‘Do-It-Yourself or Do-It-Together? The Implementation of Sustainable Timber Purchasing Policies by UK Retailers’ in Greener Purchasing, T. Russell, ed. (1998), Greenleaf Publishing, London


Conference Proceedings

Bendell, J. and A. Miller (2016) “The Relationship of Special Economic Zones to Sustainable Development Goals: Findings from an international survey in developing countries.” In Pathways to a Sustainable Economy Conference, 28th to 29th November 2016, Griffith University, Brisbane. Info here.

Bindewald. L. and J. Bendell (2016) The Grammar Of Money: A Discursive Institutional Analysis Of Money In Light Of The Practice Of Complementary Currencies, in Proceedings of the 6th Critical Approaches to Discourse Analysis across Disciplines Conference CADAAD, 2016, University of Catania. Download here.

Lead in Asia Conference, Nusa Dua, Indonesia, 20-22 January, 2016. Presented J. Bendell, R. Little and N. Sutherland (2016) ‘Beyond the Impasse in Western Leadership’.

International Leadership Association, 17th Annual Global Conference, Barcelona, 14-17 October, 2015. Presented Bendell, J and R Little (2015) ‘Searching for Sustainability Leadership’.

World Trade Organisation, Public Forum, Geneva, October 31st, 2015. Presented Bendell et al (2015) ‘Enhancing the Contribution of Export Processing Zones to the Sustainable Development Goals.’

UNRISD conference on the Potential and Limits of the Social and Solidarity Economy, 11 May 2015, Geneva. Presented Bendell, Ruddick and Slater (2015) ‘Re-imagining Money to Broaden the Future of Development Finance: What Kenyan Community Currencies Reveal is Possible for Financing Development’.

Ruddick, W.O, Richards M.A and J Bendell (2013) Complementary Currencies for Sustainable Development in Kenya: The Case of the Bangla-Pesa, Presented at the 2nd International Conference on Complementary Currency Systems (CCS), at ISS, The Hague, 19 – 23 June 2013. Here.

Bendell, J. and K. Kearins (2004c) The Political Bottom Line: The Emerging Dimension to Corporate Responsibility for Sustainable Development, Academy of Management Conference 2004 Best Paper Proceedings.

Bendell, J. (2003c) CSR for Development: Western Imperialism or Cosmopolitan Democracy? Paper presented at the Academy of Management Conference 2003

Bendell, J. (2002d) Banana Karma: The Role of Civil Society in Chiquita’s Conversion to Sustainability, Paper Presented at Academy of Management Conference 2002, Denver, 9-14 August

Bendell, J. (1998) Citizens’ Cane? Relations Between Business and Civil Society. Paper presented at the 3rd International Conference ISTR, Geneva

Bendell, J. and Warner E. (1996) If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em! The Costs and Benefits of Partnerships with Environmental Groups: The Case of the WWF 1995 Plus Group, ERP Business Strategy and the Environment Conference, September 1996 at the University of Leeds: ERP, Leeds

Bendell, J. and F. Sullivan (1996) ‘Sleeping with the Enemy? Environmentalist-Business Partnerships for Sustainable Development – The Case of the WWF 1995 Group’, in R. Aspinwall and J. Smith Business-Environmentalist Partnerships : A Sustainable Model?, White Horse Press: Cambridge, UK.

Murphy D. F. and Bendell, J. (1997) The Politics of Corporate Environmentalism: Civil, Legal or Self-Compliance for Sustainable Development?, paper presented at the UNRISD 1997 Conference “Business Responsibility for Environmental Protection in Developing Countries” in Heredia, Costa Rica: United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, Geneva


Professional Magazines and Newspapers

Bendell, J. and M. Lopatin (2016) Democracy Demands a Richer Britain, Huffington Post, 02/12/16. Listed here.

Bendell, J. (2016m) Pro-Competition Regulation can Help Fintech and Virtual Currencies Fulfil Potential, European Financial Review, 22/10/2016,

Bendell, J. and M. Lopatin (2016) Why New Labour And Talk Of Austerity Must Go, Huffington Post, 13/10/16. Listed here.

Bendell, J. (2016l) Businesses Like Apple Need Politicians Who Can Stand Up To Them, Huffington Post, 09/09/16. Listed here.

Bendell, J. (2016k) Drug Pricing Threatens Political Flashpoint For Labour, Huffington Post, 24/08/16. Listed here.

Bendell, J. (2016j) Monty Python’s Lessons for Leaders: or how spirituality & leadership are close at hand, Huffington Post, 19/07/16. Listed here.

Bendell, J. (2016i) Stopping Blair Trashing International Law Means Justice Can Come, Huffington Post, 07/07/16. Listed here.

Bendell, J. (2016h) Leadership after Brexit must involve this, Huffington Post, 29/06/16. Listed here.

Bendell, J. (2016g) Does capitalism need some Marxism to survive the Fourth Industrial Revolution? World Economic Forum, 22/06/2016. See here.

Bendell, J. (2016f) Our Planet Needs a Purposeful Private Sector, confirms UN, Huffington Post, 20/06/16. Listed here.

Bendell, J. (2016e) Carry on flying: why activists should take to the skies, Open Democracy, 22/05/2016, See here.

Bendell, J. (2016d) Financial technology start-ups need power of the EU behind them, The Telegraph, 17/05/2016. See here.

Bendell, J. (2016c) London’s Fintech Boom Needs the EU, Huffington Post, 10/05/16. Listed here.

Bendell, J. (2016b) How can we fund the Sustainable Development Goals? World Economic Forum, 21/03/2016, See here.

Bendell, J. (2016a) Retiring Trident Is a Defence Imperative, Huffington Post, 24/01/16. Listed here.

Bendell, J (2015f) From castle to cage: what to do about the housing crisis? Open Democracy, 22 April 2015. Download here.

Bendell, J (2015e) What happens to democracy in a cashless society? Open Democracy, 8 April 2015. Download here.

Bendell, J (2015d) Could electronic parallel currency ease Greece’s big cash freeze? New Scientist, 6 July 2015. Download here.

Bendell, J (2015c) 4 sinister threats that loom for the cashless society, New Scientist, 3 June 2015. Download here.

Bendell, J (2015b) To save growth, we must leave fossil fuels in the ground, World Economic Forum, 30th November. Download here.

Bendell, J (2015a) Could enterprise zones help us achieve the Global Goals? World Economic Forum, 14th December. Download here.

Bendell, J. (2013c) Is sustainable business still possible? The Guardian.

Bendell, J. (2013b) Trading without money? Why a new system can address the economic spiral, The Guardian.

Bendell, J. (2013a) Uncovering Davos Ma’am, Al Jazeera. Here.

Bendell, J (2011) Fixing the 9 Flaws of ESG Analysis and Ratings, in Responsible Investor, April 2011.

Bendell, J (2009) One day we could all benefit from luxury, The Financial Chronicle, Delhi, India.

Bendell, J. (2008d) Can gloom spell upturn for planet? Today Newspaper, November 10th (Singapore)

Bendell, J. (2008c) How about a green prix? Today Newspaper, Wednesday, February 20 (Singapore),

Bendell, J. (2008b) ‘Shopping is Not Complete Without Life’, XL Magazine, February.

Bendell, J. (2008a) ‘Iconic Brands and the Ethics of Luxury’, Today Newspaper, 17th January  (Singapore)

Bendell, J. (2003a) ‘Chiquita’s path from pariah to paradigm’ Ethical Corporation Magazine, March

Bendell, J. (2002g) ‘Have you seen my business case?’, Ethical Corporation Magazine, November.

Bendell, J. (2002e) ‘It’s CSR Jem, but not as we knew it’, Ethical Corporation Magazine, September.

Bendell, J. (2002c) ‘Psychos in Suits: American CEOs in need of an Asylum’, Open Democracy, August

Bendell, J. (2001g) ‘The Politics of Partnership’, Cambridge Programme for Industry Newsletter, November 2001.

Bendell, J. (2000d) ‘Civilizing Markets’, The UN Chronicle, Vol. XXXVII No. 2 2000, Department of Public Information, UN: New York.

Bendell, J. (2000) ‘Mind the Gap’, Tomorrow Environment Business Magazine, May-June No. 3, Tomorrow Publishing: Sweden.

Bendell J. and D.F. Murphy (1997) ‘New Spiderman, New Solutions’, in Green Futures, Number 3 February/March



Bendell, J and R Little (2015a) ‘Searching for Sustainability Leadership’, IFLAS Occasional Paper No. 1, University of Cumbria, UK. Download here.

Bendell, J. et al (2010) Capitalism in Question, Lifeworth, Manila, Philippines. Bendell, J. et al (2009) The Eastern Turn in Responsible Enterprise, Lifeworth, Manila, Philippines. Bendell J. and A. Kleanthous (2009) Deeper Luxury (en Espanol): Calidad y Estillo Responsables con el Planeta, Adena / WWF-Espana and Lifestyle 3.0, Madrid, Spain. Bendell, J with J Cohen and C. Veuthey (2008) The Global Step Change, Lifeworth Annual Review of Corporate Responsibility.

Bendell, J. and A. Kleanthous (2007) Deeper Luxury: Quality and Style when the World Matters, WWF-UK, Godalming, UK.

Bendell, J with J. Cohen, S Shah and L Rimando (2007) Tipping Frames, Lifeworth Annual Review of Corporate Responsibility.

Bendell, J with J. Manoochehri and S Shah (2006) Serving Systemic Transformations, Lifeworth Annual Review of CSR.

Bendell, J. (2005) Making Business Work for Development, Insights, No. 54, ID21, Institute of Development Studies, UK

Bendell, J. (2004a) Flags of Inconvenience? The Global Compact and the Future of the United Nations, ICCSR Research Paper Series No. 22-2004, Nottingham University, ISSN 1479-5124

Mercier, F. and J. Bendell (2004) The Business Case For Financial Stability: A Global Dialogue With The Financial Sector, Bread for All: Berne.

Prieto, M. and J. Bendell (2002) If You Want to Help Us Then Start Listening to Us! From Factories and Plantations in Central America, Women Speak out about Corporate Responsibility, Occasional Paper, New Academy of Business: Bath, UK

Bendell, J. (2001d) Growing Pain: The Lessons of Allying with a Major Transnational to Reduce the Social and Environmental Impacts of Banana Plantations, Report funded by the Aspen Institute, on Eldis.

Bendell, J. (2001f) Towards Participatory Workplace Appraisal: Report from a Focus Group of Women Banana Workers, Occasional Paper, New Academy of Business, Bath, UK

Bendell, J. (2000f) Talking for Change: Reflections on Effective Stakeholder Dialogue, Occasional Paper, New Academy of Business: Bristol UK


In addition, Prof Bendell wrote 40 columns of 5000 words that reviewed relevant research in each previous quarter, for the Journal of Corporate Citizenship.


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Jem’s Quarterly: Le Freak, Ain’t Chic

Posted by jembendell on June 21, 2016

Are yoChicfreaku freaked out by climate change? We should be. But it is difficult to stay freaked out for long. So I’ve often distracted myself with other important things to do. Or with fun. Or retreated into existential naval gazing. I’ve sometimes thought about tuning out and living lightly. But I’ve kept coming back to the question: “if the shit’s coming, how I am helping?” Wondering about the meaning of life, being nicer to mum, or stopping flying, just doesn’t seem to cut it.

It has become a conversation I have with colleagues quite often: “Given what we think we know, how are we helping?” Our discussions helped me to realise that everyone will find their own answer for what to think, feel and do, and what is key is asking ourselves the question. Regularly. In my case, whatever hat I’m wearing, I’m mostly a communicator. But since the 90’s, raising the alarm hasn’t seemed enough. Instead, I focus on promoting insight and action on two areas that are key for rapid mitigation at scale, and preparing for the troubles to come. I call them “sustainable leadership” and “sustainable exchange”.

When scared or frustrated, we may look for leaders. But this can be counterproductive. Because there’s no one coming. We all need to take our turn; to lead in some way, together. And those of us who have knowledge and networks to attempt more systemic change have a responsibility (and opportunity!) to try. But as professionals in sustainability how often do we ask ourselves if our actions respond to our awareness of the challenge? To trigger such discussion, my article “Carry on Flying: why activists should take to the skies” was a touch provocative. I’d welcome your thoughts in the Sustainable Leaders LinkedIn group.   

Having a “theory of change” is something we explore on the Sustainable Leadership course that I tutor, the next of which involves 6 days in the English Lake District this September. I was pleased to see the global management trainers Impact International conclude that our courses are cutting edge.

One idea we explore at the Institute is whether we are so encased in our corporate lives that we need opportunities to awaken to our ecological selves. So I’m pleased to welcome Jo Chaffer to study for a PhD on the role of wilderness in leadership development. She has been taking people into the Himalaya for leadership development for years. Jo tells me “Heart Mountain is a trip of creativity and exploration. Seven days’ magical trekking under the eyes of Everest region staying in luxury lodges.” This November, Jo guides the trek with Jamie Catto, the creative genius behind the band 1GiantLeap. If you fancy some adventure, personal development, coaching, and playfulness, see here

I will be co-leading a wilderness-based leadership development course in Costa Rica, for 5 days from January 3rd. It is a project with another student at IFLAS, Georgia Wingfield Hayes, who used to work in the nature reserve we will visit. Profits from “Leading Wild” are going to support the amazing place. Georgia is writing some great poetry that evokes some of the essence of what we work on. If you know people in either Central America or the Indian subcontinent (for Heart Mountain), please forward them the info on these two retreats.  

My theory of change involves transforming economic governance. Part of that means aligning global capital markets with progress on the various “sustainable development” issues. I wrote about that here for the World Economic Forum and here for the Huffington Post – and took this message to the WEF’s ASEAN Summit, among other events. With other WEF Young Global Leaders, we will launch an initiative to promote investment aligned with the Global Goals for sustainable development (if you work with an institutional investor please get in touch). Much can be done even within existing rules, as we are discovering at Trimantium Capital, where we make significant investments with an “impact investing” mindset.

Another aspect of this agenda is far deeper and tougher: changing the monetary system so it doesn’t drive us toward unsustainable maldevelopment. One approach to that is currency innovation, and so I gave a keynote talk at a conference of local currency innovators, focusing on implications of the end of cash for local pounds. Innovation doesn’t happen in a policy vacuum, so I pitched in on the Brexit debate, with an article in the Daily Telegraph, about the need for regulations to support financial technology start-ups to compete with the big banks. I also promoted fresh thinking on these topics on the World Economic Forum blog, suggesting Capitalism could use a little Marxism. This summer at IFLAS we host retreats for both the Finance Innovation Lab and the Positive Money campaign and offer our free online course on Money and Society (over 4 weeks from August 21st… so this is your last reminder – enrol!)   

I’m doing a bunch of talks and seminars in Cumbria and Lancaster this summer, so if you are nearby, the best way to keep in touch is by joining the email group that participants of the LeadingWell events have set up.

All of this can seem quite far from climate change, but not if you understand it as the outcome of economic governance shaped by worldviews that undermine our ability to collaborate for the common good.

And at least it feels better than freaking out.  

Dr Jem Bendell

Professor of Sustainability Leadership, Institute For Leadership And Sustainability (IFLAS)

Non-Executive Director, Trimantium Capital

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Postcard from Post-Britannia

Posted by jembendell on May 23, 2016

A history of the end of the UK 2008-2018..
After bankers ransacked the country in 2008, the resultant unhappiness from unemployment and austerity was directed by corporate and government media away from banking and towards others that people could feel self righteous about: the unemployed, immigrants, muslims. This was stoked by a party previously founded by the bankers, called UKIP.
The narrow vote to leave the EU was mostly based on worries over immigration rather than doing anything about banking, tax evasion or any of the other more material influences on citizen’s wellbeing. Psychologists found that people’s vote for Brexit was largely about people feeling that they could exert some power at a time when they increasingly felt powerless.
This result led the SNP to demand a referendum within a year so they could leave the UK and stay in EU. This was rejected by Westminster but the Scottish Parliament voted to go ahead anyway. A difficult period ensued and as violence threatened to escalate, so Westminster caved in and Scotland left the union the day UK left the EU. The government fell and Boris Johnston became Prime Minister. Anticipating problems with trade and finance as a result of leaving the EU (and some argue to help his friends), he scrapped various taxes for corporations and banks. This created a balanced of payments crisis and was used to justify even more draconian cuts on the welfare state. Now people had to pay for their children to go to school, not just university.
A vote for the Tories in 2015 General Election should have been seen as a risk to the UK due to how a EU referendum could lead to Brexit and thus Scotland demanding a new referendum. But the Labour party had been so completely paralysed by concern for appealing to everybody (including their own grandees) that they had no core analysis and narrative and reacted to the media rather than setting agendas. Therefore they let the mass media repeat the story that Labour was a threat to the union and they lost, ushering the end of Britain as it was known.
As the banker rule of the remainder of Britain continued and government ministries began to be merged or shut down and all responsibilities moved to new regional governments, so serious movements began to emerge for Cornwall, Yorkshire and other regions to secede from the UK. Many intelligent people such as Tristram Hunt MP welcomed this in the name of greater democracy, and were given much air time for their views, as none of these new entities could do anything about regulating banking.
Unfortunately an influx of millions of pensioners returning from abroad after losing their residency in Europe was the straw that broke the back of the NHS, which was finally bought by a Kuwaiti sovereign wealth fund. Boris’s campaign for Britons to buy more petrol to generate more oil profits so Kuwait would have the money to invest in new hospitals was criticised by Friends of the Earth but welcomed as realistic by Britain’s tabloids. “Given that Britain is now a small federation of local parishes, we can’t expect more of our government than funding Trident” explained the editor of the Daily Mail, in 2020.
That year Labour were elected into coalition government. In what the public hoped was merely a first step, they passed a law that Kuwait would only be able to sell the NHS to another sovereign wealth fund. Accused of breaking their manifesto pledge, a spokesman said  “We believe in the public ownership of the NHS. We didnt say it had to be our own government.”
A post card from post Britannia: fearmongering, farce or forecast?

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2015 Publications

Posted by jembendell on January 29, 2016

In 2015 my research focused on currency innovation, leadership and corporate social responsibility. I shared some of this research via publications. Here are the links…j-wn2CSbMMczqXXYTG5TFemn3De1qB1wC1UgJVIKg34,5WewfNosQC6fP5dUNe-oD1hg7Icy5uBVH1QSITeVogE

My published academic outputs from 2015

On monetary reform and currency innovation…

Ruddick, W., Richards, M. and Bendell, J. (2015) ‘Complementary Currencies for Sustainable Development in Kenya: The Case of the Bangla-Pesa’ International Journal of Community Currency Research, 19.  ISSN 1325-9547. Download here.

Bendell, J., W. Ruddick and M. Slater (2015) Re-imagining Money to Broaden the Future of Development Finance: What Kenyan Community Currencies Reveal is Possible for Financing Development, Working Paper 2015-10, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), Geneva. Download here.

On leadership…

Bendell, J and R Little (2015a) ‘Searching for Sustainability Leadership’, IFLAS Occasional Paper No. 1, University of Cumbria, UK. Download here.

Bendell, J. and R. Little (2015b) ‘Seeking Sustainability Leadership’, Journal of Corporate Citizenship, Issue 60, pp. 13-26(14). Download here.

On corporate social responsibility…

Bendell, J. (2015) ‘What if we are failing? Towards a post Crisis agenda for the Global Compact’, in McIntosh, M. ed (2015) Business, Capitalism and Corporate Citizenship: A Collection of Seminal Essays, Greenleaf Publishing, Sheffield. Download here.

UNCTAD (2015) Enhancing the Contribution of Export Processing Zones to the Sustainable Development Goals, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), New York and Geneva. Co-authored by J. Bendell. Download here.

My mainstream articles about this research

On monetary reform and currency innovation…

Bendell, J (2015) From castle to cage: what to do about the housing crisis? Open Democracy, 22 April 2015. Download here.

Bendell, J (2015) What happens to democracy in a cashless society? Open Democracy, 8 April 2015. Download here.

Bendell, J (2015) Could electronic parallel currency ease Greece’s big cash freeze? New Scientist, 6 July 2015. Download here.

Bendell, J (2015) 4 sinister threats that loom for the cashless society, New Scientist, 3 June 2015. Download here.

On leadership…

Bendell, J (2015) To save growth, we must leave fossil fuels in the ground, World Economic Forum, 30th November. Download here.

On corporate social responsibility…

Bendell, J (2015) Could enterprise zones help us achieve the Global Goals? World Economic Forum, 14th December. Download here.

But not just official publications…

Like many of us, I blogged on these issues both here and at and also shared my research via 12 public talks in 5 countries.

To be able to do this research and share it I’m grateful to colleagues at the University of Cumbria, UNCTAD, UNRISD, Impact International, WEF, Grassroots Economics, Community Forge, New Scientist, Greenleaf and Open Democracy.

It is difficult to know what the impact of my publications are. Citations, like via Google Scholar, give you a bit of a feel for that (ooh, an i-10 index of 35!), but that takes time.

Looking back on 2015, I think the main impact on people’s learning and unlearning via the Leading Wellbeing Research Festival and the free online course on Money and Society (which starts again on Feb 21st 2016).

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Beyond the Leadership Impasse

Posted by jembendell on January 18, 2016

Books on leadership are flying off the shelves and managers are flying in to leadership courses around the world. Is this helping them, their organisations and wider society? Or might some of the advice and training do more harm than good?

More research on leadership is exposing some of the limiting assumptions of mainstream ideas and teaching on leadership and its development. This is coming to be known as “Critical Leadership Studies” (CLS).

This week I’m attending the Lead in Asia conference in Indonesia and will be presenting a summary of CLS and what it could mean for non-Western scholarship and training. Ive written the paper with Richard Little of Impact International and Dr Neil Sutherland of Bristol Business School. I’m hoping to learn of critical approaches already underway in the region and also sense the way critical social theory might be further utilised in the management academe in East Asia.

You can download the pdf here: Leadership Impasse.

We base some of our leadership courses at IFLAS on these ideas, including the PGC in Sustainable Leadership and the new MA in Sustainable Leadership Development.

Feedback welcomed, especially via the Sustainable Leaders group on LinkedIn.


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