“One of Greenpeace’s great captains” – Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven to step down after 14 years

Sauven oversaw vital campaigns to protect rainforests, stop coal burning and fracking in the UK, kickstart offshore wind, and give oceans the protection they deserve. Programme director Pat Venditti takes over as interim executive director.


John Sauven is stepping down as executive director of Greenpeace UK after 14 years.

John joined Greenpeace in 1991. As a forest campaigner, he was instrumental in getting protection for the Great Bear rainforest in Canada, and halting further destruction of the Amazon by soya producers.

Three activists stand on a stage in cold weather gear. One speaks into a microphone.

On stage with Indigenous activists during the Save the Arctic campaign. © Kristian Buus / Greenpeace

After being appointed executive director in 2007, John led the organisations on many high-profile climate campaigns, including:

When 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. In recent years, he campaigned to stop fracking in the UK, cut plastic waste and protect the oceans from destructive fishing and other industries.

Pat Venditti is Greenpeace UK’s interim executive director

Pat Venditti speaking into a microphone at an official event

Pat Venditti speaking at an event on air pollution. © David Sandison / Greenpeace

The board has appointed programme director Pat Venditti as interim executive director.

Pat has been in charge of our campaigning programme for the past seven years, and will lead Greenpeace UK while we recruit a permanent new executive director.

John 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.



“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.”
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Looking ahead

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.

John Sauven, dressed in an orange boiler suit, attaches yellow 'climate crime scene' tape to the front of a car as it moves along a factory assembly line.

John Sauven labels a SUV on the Range Rover production line as “Climate Crime Scene”. © Kate Davison / Greenpeace

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 outfit.

Looking to the crucial year ahead, Pat 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.”

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