Dr Peter White's has over 30 years’ experience in high-profile climate and environment-focused roles

Sustainability leader joins University of Exeter Business School

A sustainability leader from industry has joined the University of Exeter Business School as a new Professor of Practice as part of the recently announced £10 million biodiversity renewal project (RENEW). 

Dr Peter White, who has over 30 years’ experience in high-profile climate and environment-focused roles, will be working alongside Professor Gail Whiteman to establish ways to ensure nature and biodiversity are fully integrated into the decision-making processes for business and finance.

Dr White’s credentials as a sustainability champion burnishes the Business School’s credentials as an organisation looking to bridge the gap between the boardroom and academic research.

A biologist by training, he brings vast experience to the Professor of Practice role, including 22 years at Procter & Gamble, where he designed and headed up the company’s sustainability strategy – one of the first of its kind – and later became its Director of Global Sustainability.

He has also worked at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development as Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, and latterly as its Ambassador for Biodiversity.

Dr White is also Vice Chair of the Board at the Gold Standard Foundation, which sets the trade standard for carbon offsetting, a role he will continue alongside his work for the Business School. 

The RENEW project aims to put people at the centre of action on biodiversity renewal and build expertise across different sectors and communities to address the environment and climate crisis.

The project, a collaboration between the University of Exeter and the National Trust which has received £10 million in funding from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), will look at how to include nature and biodiversity in decision making, for individuals, communities, land managers, and for business and finance.

Dr White will be focusing on business and finance, on which he aims to bring his considerable experience to bear.

“Part of the work is to understand what the hurdles are that are stopping nature and biodiversity from being part of decision-making processes and then identify approaches, processes, tools,  and incentives that will enable business and finance to engage,” Dr White said. 

This he says is not “reinventing the wheel” but in part a case of taking advantage of the existing activities already out there. 

“There are various networks and activities already underway around business and nature, such as the Business for Nature coalition, and the UK Business and Biodiversity Forum, and the key is to link in to make sure RENEW benefits from them. We don’t want to reinvent the wheel, we want to use what has already been learnt and create impact in terms of getting nature taken into account.”

Professor Alexandra Gerbasi, Acting Pro-Vice Chancellor and Executive Dean at the University of Exeter Business School, said: “I’m very happy to welcome Peter to the Business School, and his appointment is another example of how we are developing leadership for a better world by helping to provide solutions to some of the greatest challenges facing global society today.” 

For more information on the RENEW project, see here.

Portrait photo of Dr Peter White

Date: 6 May 2022

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