Green veteran John Sauven to step down after 14 years at the helm of Greenpeace UK

Greenpeace UK's Executive Director John Sauven is handing over the baton to interim Executive Director Pat Venditti


Greenpeace UK’s Executive Director John Sauven is to step down from his role after 14 years at the head of the campaign group next month. The Greenpeace UK board has appointed the organisation’s Programme Director Pat Venditti as interim Executive Director.


During his time at Greenpeace UK, John has overseen vital campaign wins to protect our rainforests, stop coal burning and fracking in the UK, kickstart offshore wind, and give our oceans the protection they deserve. 


Pat Venditti, who has been in charge of the organisation’s campaigning programme for the past seven years, will lead Greenpeace UK while the process of recruiting a permanent new executive director remains underway. Since joining Greenpeace UK in 2004, Pat has held several management and leadership roles, including that of Forest Campaign Director and Deputy Programme Director.


The Greenpeace UK board started recruiting for a new executive director at the end of last year and the process is still ongoing. Pat’s appointment will provide continuity in the organisation’s leadership until the permanent role is filled.


John Sauven will step down as executive director on 1 February and will stay on to advise and support the interim executive director until 31 March to ensure a smooth transition.


Commenting on the appointment, Greenpeace UK’s chair of the board Andrew McParland said:


“We’re delighted that Pat has agreed to take over as interim executive director during this transition period. Pat has done a terrific job of leading our campaigns through the upheavals of the last few years and will provide continuity and strong leadership while we look for a new executive director. This is a crucial decision for the future of Greenpeace UK and we want to make sure we give ourselves the best chance to find the right person for it.”  


Commenting on the handover, outgoing Executive Director John Sauven said:


“It’s hard to express just how lucky I feel for having had the opportunity to lead an organisation like Greenpeace for the last 14 years. The climate and nature crisis is the biggest challenge humanity is facing, and being able to make a contribution towards tackling it has been a huge privilege. Over the last few years, we have won many crucial campaigns, but there’s an awful lot more work that remains to be done. This is why I’m glad to be handing over the baton to Pat, an experienced manager and leader who has overseen the incredible campaign work of the last few years.” 


Commenting on his appointment, interim Executive Director Pat Venditti said:


“It’s an honour to be asked to lead an organisation like Greenpeace UK during this transition phase, and I’m very grateful to John and the board for this opportunity. This is going to be another crucial year for global efforts to avoid a climate catastrophe and the collapse of nature, and Greenpeace UK is ready to play its part.”


John Sauven joined Greenpeace UK in 1991. As a forest campaigner, he was instrumental in getting protection for the Great Bear temperate rainforest on the west coast of Canada and coordinating the international campaign to secure a moratorium on further destruction of the Amazon by soya producers. 


After being appointed executive director in 2007, John led the organisation on many high-profile climate campaigns, including those to stop the third runway at Heathrow, the construction of new coal plants in the UK and Shell’s attempts to drill in the Arctic. When a group of Greenpeace activists were arrested by Russian security forces in the Arctic and held in prison for over two months, he steered the organisation through one of the most difficult times in its history.


A life-long forest campaigner, in 2013 John also helped negotiate a landmark agreement to protect the Indonesian rainforest from the pulp and paper industry. In recent years, he took an active role in the campaign to stop fracking in the UK and championed major new campaigns to cut plastic waste and protect the oceans from destructive fishing and other industries.


John has been a tireless innovator, encouraging collaborations with numerous artists and filmmakers, exploring creative ways of delivering Greenpeace’s messages, and supporting the creation of Unearthed, Greenpeace UK’s investigative outfits. 


After leaving Greenpeace UK in March, John plans to carry on supporting Greenpeace as a volunteer and activist alongside his work with NANN-K Trust – a charity he set up with the Senegalese musician and UN ambassador Baaba Maal working in the Sahel on desertification and sustainable development.


Commenting on John’s departure, Andrew McParland added:


“John has never piloted a ship but he’s one of Greenpeace’s great captains. He has been an amazing leader for Greenpeace UK over the last 14 years and one of its driving forces for even longer. Under his leadership, the organisation has won vital campaigns to protect our rainforests, stop coal burning and fracking in the UK, kickstart offshore wind, and give our oceans the protection they deserve. John’s boldness, creativity and sharp communication skills have helped shape the highly effective campaigning organisation Greenpeace UK is today. From the bottom of our hearts we wish him the best of luck with his next adventure.”




Contact: Greenpeace UK head of news Stefano Gelmini at and on 07506 512442.

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