Skoll Foundation


BioRegional Development Group

Skoll Awardee(s): Sue Riddlestone and Pooran Desai
Award Year: 2009
Issue Area(s) Addressed: Environmental Sustainability

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“If everyone in the world lived like we do in Europe, we would need three planets to support us. We need to live within the resources of our fair share of our one planet. But if you tell people they need to reduce their footprint by 90 percent, they think it’s too difficult. If you show them in a real life setting, and they can see that it’s attractive and even better, they are more willing to make the change.”

Sub-Issues: Clean Energy, Living Conditions Consumption is driving the world’s environmental problems and unsustainable use and emission of carbon. Ingrained habits and approaches are barriers to the adoption of more sustainable practices. The developed world does not have a clear image of the benefits of efficiency.

The Skoll Awardees: Pooran Desai and Sue Riddlestone, a husband and wife team, founded BioRegional in 1994. Pooran studied neuroscience at Oxford University, and Sue trained as a nurse, but both discovered a passion for applying the lessons of natural systems and complexity theory to solving environmental problems. They shared a vision of making more efficient use of local renewable and waste resources ? supporting local economies with a circular flow of resources and a “metabolism” similar to that of an ecosystem. BioRegional acts as an incubator for these kinds of development, demonstrating them in the real world and replicating them through partnerships, consultancy, training, and education. BioRegional uses its innovations to influence policy, influence industry best practice and raise consumer awareness of what it calls One Planet Living. At the time of the Award, BioRegional’s best known innovation was the Beddington Zero Energy Development, BedZED, a 100-home development in south London that influenced the U.K. government’s adoption of a zero-carbon target for new homes by 2016. It was poised to expand internationally and make Web-based tools for planning One Planet Living available globally.

Impact since joining the portfolio in 2009:

  • The U.K.’s largest home improvement chain adopted One Planet Living as a guiding vision.
  • BioRegional helped the London 2012 Olympics meet sustainability goals applying One Planet Living concepts.
  • The U.K. Housing Corporation, which funds all social housing in the U.K., has adopted One Planet Living principles.
  • Modeling by BioRegional shows that residents in One Planet communities maintain up to 40 percent reductions in carbon footprints compared to peers.
  • A BioRegional organization in China has applied One Planet Living in a suburb of 20,000 residents, working with leading real estate developers and earning a UN award.
  • 3,000 individuals and organizations have used online tools to create an action plan.



© 2015 Skoll Foundation.