Sir David Attenborough – Naturalist & Broadcaster

Sir David Attenborough has been an honorary patron of Population Institute Canada since 2016. Photo used with permission.

For more than sixty years, Sir David Attenborough has presented Earth’s natural history and introduced the beauty, creativity and fragility of its species to a global audience.

As writer, producer and broadcaster for the world’s oldest and largest public broadcaster, the BBC, he has participated in or been responsible for dozens of nature documentaries and series. Along the way he’s blended his ardent presentation of flora and fauna with concern and activism to become a globally renowned naturalist and conservationist.

His delight filming the natural world gave way to concern over the years as he noticed the animals he studied— along with their habitats—were under increasing environmental threats that could be traced to rapid population growth in many parts of the world, and that “true wilderness” was becoming harder to find. Increasingly, his work reflected these concerns.

His 2009 documentary, How Many People Can Live on Planet Earth?, investigated the potential for a global crisis, and gave viewers a much-needed perspective on overpopulation as he noted that the population of the planet had more than doubled in his lifetime.

Over the course of his career, Sir David has received dozens of awards for his services to broadcasting and for his efforts in conservation. In 1985 he was knighted by the Queen, and in 2002 received the Order of Merit. He holds at least 31 honourary degrees from British universities, including Oxford and Cambridge. He has been voted “Britain’s Most Trusted Citizen” numerous times and is increasingly being profiled for speaking out about the problems caused by overpopulation.

In addition to holding patronage with UK-based sister organization Population Matters, he has been a patron for many years of the World Land Trust, a non-profit environmental organization that buys rain forests around the globe to preserve wildlife. In May, 2015, Sir David was interviewed by President Barack Obama to discuss his new series on the Great Barrier Reef, and highlighted the problem of overpopulation in the context of conservation efforts. The program aired on the BBC to a viewership of more than 2.5 million people in July, 2015.

With his ongoing efforts to contribute to our knowledge of the natural world, along with continuing advocacy for conservation and population awareness, Sir David remains a strong steward of the environment and a formidable influence for nature appreciation.

Robert Bateman – Naturalist & Artist

Canadian naturalist and painter Robert Bateman. Photo used with permission.

Robert Bateman is one of Canada’s foremost naturalists and among the world’s most celebrated wildlife artists and naturalist painters. Since the 1960s he’s been an active member of conservation organizations and a spokesperson for many conservation and environmental issues. He’s an honorary member of the World Wildlife Fund and is recognized by the National Audobon Society as one of the twentieth century’s “Heroes of Conservation.”

For the past thirty years he has made his home in British Columbia, frequently speaking out about threats to traditional ecosystems that are the result of human activities such as clear-cutting as well as tar sand and oil pipeline operations. In 2007 he donated 11 million dollars of artwork towards the Robert Bateman Centre, creating a catalyst for environmental research and study.

In 2000 he wrote Thinking Like a Mountain, about the need to adopt a planet-first philosophy to ensure Earth’s sustainability.

In December 2015 Robert Bateman was the first visual artist to be awarded the World Ecology Award, given to individuals who’ve raised public awareness of global ecological issues and who’ve made significant contributions to environmental protection and biodiversity conservation. The Bateman Foundation Gallery of Nature in Victoria, British Columbia, was founded by Robert to promote the sustainability of the environment through art and educational programs and is open year round to the public.

Margaret Catley-Carlson – Former President of CIDA; Deputy Minister of Health & Welfare Canada; Former Chair, Global Water Partnership


Margaret Catley-Carlson, former Chair of the Global Water Partnership. Photo used with permission.

Margaret Catley-Carlson, a well-known Canadian public servant, was Chair and is now a patron of the Global Water Partnership. She now serves as Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors at the Canadian Water Network.

Ms. Catley-Carlson’s professional career began as a career diplomat in Canada. In 1978, she was appointed Vice President (Multilateral) of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), becoming  Senior Vice President/Acting President in 1979. She was a deputy minister of health for Canada and the deputy director of operations of UNICEF with the rank of assistant secretary-general of the United Nations. From 1993-1999 she served as sixth President of the Population Council. She has received eight honorary degrees and became an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2002.

In 1984, she was appointed to the Board of Governors for the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), a Canadian Crown corporation supporting researchers from the developing world in their quest to build healthier, more equitable, and more prosperous societies.  She is a member of the Board of Trustees of the International Institute for Environment and Development.

In 2012, she was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Dr. Paul and Anne Ehrlich are Stanford University

PIC Patrons Dr. Paul and Anne Ehrlich are Stanford University biologists, co-authors and collaborators on issues of population biology, ecology and evolution.

Drs. Paul & Anne Ehrlich, Co-Authors, The Population Bomb

For three decades Drs. Paul & Anne Ehrlich have been producing important scientific research on population-related issues specifically aimed at non-scientific audiences as they seek to translate meaningful science into workable policy.  In their passionate pursuit of this it’s difficult to name any other couple who have made such a long-standing, substantive contribution to scientific and policy understanding of population, environmental and resource issues.

Along with a large and important body of scientific research, it’s their population advocacy work (along with their 1968 book The Population Bomb, followed by its 1991 sequel The Population Explosion) for which they’re best known. With unflinching directness, they warned that the Earth’s resources could not indefinitely support the planet’s growing population. Their willingness to offer and seek solutions to population-related problems has attracted harsh criticism; their judgments have been distorted, and their prescriptions sometimes misrepresented as draconian. Nevertheless, the passage of time is revealing their work to be prescient.

Both have displayed rare leadership—notably but not exclusively on the subject of population growth—in seeking to translate meaningful science into workable policy stemming from an unalterable belief that “the future is still ours to make.”

Robert R. Fowler – Former Foreign Policy Advisor; Deputy Minister, DND; Ambassador to UN; UN Under-Secretary General & Special Envoy to Africa

Robert Fowler, Past UN Ambassador, Foreign Policy Advisor, and former Deputy Minister National Defence

Robert Fowler, Past UN Ambassador, Foreign Policy Advisor, and former Deputy Minister National Defence. Photo used with permission.

As a senior civil servant in Canada during the 1970s and 1980s, Robert Fowler’s political career has shaped many of Canada’s military and foreign policies. He spent a dozen years in the Department of External Affairs serving in Paris, the United Nations, and at headquarters in Ottawa before being transferred to the Privy Council Office where he was the Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Ministers Trudeau, Turner and Mulroney.

He has served as Assistant Deputy Minister (Policy) at the Department of National Defence, Deputy Minister of National Defence, and has been Canada’s longest-serving UN Ambassador.

A long and varied career in Canada’s foreign service saw him eventually serving as the Personal Representative for Africa for Prime Ministers Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin and, briefly, Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

He retired from the federal public service in the fall of 2006, and became a Senior Fellow at the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.

In July 2008, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, appointed Mr. Fowler to be his Special Envoy to Niger, with the rank of Under-Secretary-General. While carrying out his mission, Mr. Fowler and his colleague, Louis Guay, were captured by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and held hostage in the Sahara Desert for 130 days. In November 2011 Harper Collins (Canada) published his account of that experience, entitled “A Season in Hell: My 130 days in the Sahara with Al Qaeda.”

Mr. Fowler was awarded honorary doctorates from the University of Ottawa in 2010 and from Queen’s in 2011. In November 2011, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Jane Goodall, PhD, DBE; Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute & a UN Messenger of Peace

Dr. Jane Goodall, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace.

Dr. Jane Goodall,  founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and a UN Messenger of Peace. Photo Credit: Bill Wallauer. Photo used with permission.

In July 1960, Dr. Jane Goodall began her landmark study of chimpanzee behavior in what is now Tanzania. Her now well-known work at Gombe Stream would become the foundation of future primatological research and redefine the relationship between humans and animals.

In 1977, Dr. Goodall established the Jane Goodall Institute, which continues the Gombe research and is a global leader in the effort to protect chimpanzees and their habitats. Her Institute is widely recognized for innovative, community-centered conservation and development programs in Africa, and for Roots & Shoots, Dr. Goodall’s global environmental and humanitarian youth program.

Dr. Goodall travels an average of 300 days per year, speaking about the threats facing chimpanzees, other environmental crises including climate change and unsustainable human population growth, and her reasons for hoping that humankind will solve the problems it has imposed on the earth.

In 2002, Dr. Goodall was appointed to serve as a United Nations Messenger of Peace and in 2003 she was named a Dame of the British Empire.

Leilani Münter, Former Professional Race Car Driver and Environmental Activist

Leilani Munter in stock car racing uniform.

Leilani Munter is a former professional stock car racing driver and a prominent environmental activist. Photo used with permission.

Leilani Münter is a biology graduate, a race car driver and an environmental activist who speaks out about the need to normalize being child-free.

Since 2007 she has adopted over 1500 acres of endangered rainforest to offset the carbon footprint of her race car. When she was a professional stock car racing driver, she used her vehicle to spread messages of environmental awareness and animal rights to millions of race fans in the US.

Leilani sits on the board of EarthxFilm, Empowered by Light, and the Oceanic Preservation Society, the Academy Award-winning filmmakers behind “The Cove.” She is featured in their 2015 Emmy- nominated documentary “Racing Extinction.” She’s a patron of Population Matters and an ambassador of Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project.

Leilani’s personal car is an electric Tesla Model S which she charges with solar power and her motto is “Never underestimate a vegan hippie chick with a race car.”

William E. Rees, PhD, FRSC; Bio-Ecologist & Co-Developer of the Ecological Footprint

Dr. William Rees, former Director of UBC’s School of Community

Dr. William Rees, former Director of UBC’s School of Community and Regional Planning and a co-developer of Ecological Footprint Analysis. Photo used with permission.

Dr. William Rees is a bio-ecologist, ecological economist, and former Director and Professor Emeritus of the University of British Columbia’s School of Community and Regional Planning.

He is perhaps best known as the originator and co-developer (along with his graduate students) of ecological footprint analysis—arguably the world’s best-known indicator of the (un)sustainability of techno-industrial society. His book on eco-footprinting, co-authored with his former PhD student, Mathis Wackernagel, has been published in eight languages, including Chinese. Dr. Rees is the author of over 150 peer-reviewed papers and numerous popular articles on sustainability science and policy—as well as the lack of policy.

Prof Rees’ academic work has been widely recognized. He’s a founding member and former President of the Canadian Society for Ecological Economics; a founding Director of the One Earth Initiative; and a Fellow of the Post-Carbon Institute. He was elected to the Royal Society of Canada in 2006 and in 2007 was awarded a prestigious Trudeau Foundation Fellowship. In 2012, Dr. Rees received an Honorary Doctorate from Laval University, the Boulding Prize in Ecological Economics and a Blue Planet Prize jointly with Dr Wackernagel. He was elected a full member of the Club of Rome in 2014 and received the Herman Daly Award from the US Society for Ecological Economics.

Dr. David Suzuki, Scientist, Broadcaster, Author

Dr. David Suzuki – geneticist, broadcaster, author and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. Photo used with permission.

Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. He’s perhaps most familiar to Canadian television audiences as host of the CBC science and natural history television series The Nature of Things. In 1990 he co-founded with Dr. Tara Cullis The David Suzuki Foundation to “collaborate with Canadians from all walks of life including government and business, to conserve our environment and find solutions that will create a sustainable Canada through science-based research, education and policy work.”

Dr. Suzuki is a Companion to the Order of Canada and Professor Emeritus at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. He has been adopted into three Indigenous families: (in absentia) by Chief Wah Moodmx (Killerwhale, Johnny Clifton) of Hartley Bay, BC and was given the name Gootm Lgu Waalksik (Heart of a Prince); and by Chief George Housty of the Heiltsuk; and by Ada Yovanovitch (Eagle Clan) of the Haida of Haida Gwaii and given the name Gyaagan (My Own).  His written work includes more than 55 books, 19 of them for children. Dr. Suzuki lives with his wife and family in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Ronald Wright, Historian & Author

Ronald Wright, Historian & Author

Novelist, essayist and historian Ronald Wright. Photo used with permission.

Ronald Wright is an award winning historian, novelist, and essayist. His ten books of fiction and non-fiction have been translated into 16 languages and published in more than 40 countries. Much of his writing explores the relationships between past and present, peoples and power, other cultures and the west.

In 2004 he was chosen to give the prestigious CBC Massey Lectures, which were broadcast on national radio in Canada, Australia, and the USA, and these were published to critical acclaim as A Short History of Progress. In this series he examined what he calls the “progress trap,” noting patterns of overpopulation and environmental destruction among ancient civilizations as a warning for our modern world. A Short History of Progress went on to win the Libris Award for Nonfiction Book of the Year, and inspired the 2011 Martin Scorsese documentary Surviving Progress.

Wright’s first novel, A Scientific Romance, won Britain’s David Higham Prize for Fiction and was chosen a book of the year by the New York Times, the Sunday Times, and the Globe & Mail. His other bestsellers include Time Among the Maya and Stolen Continents, a history of the Americas since Columbus which won the Gordon Montador Award and was chosen a book of the year by the Independent and the Sunday Times.

Wright lives on Canada’s West Coast.  His latest novel, The Gold Eaters, was published by Hamish Hamilton/Penguin Canada and Riverhead/Penguin USA in the fall of 2015.