Co-executive directors standing down

Press release
It's been "an enormous privilege to lead Friends of the Earth over the last four and a half years"
  Published:  05 Jul 2024    |      2 minute read

After four and a half years leading Friends of the Earth, Miriam Turner and Hugh Knowles have decided to step down as co-executive directors at the end of this week.

Miriam and Hugh led the organisation during a particularly challenging period, taking the helm just before the Covid pandemic in 2020 and during an increasingly tough economic climate. 

Their decision to stand down comes after Hugh has had to take a leave of absence from work due to a health issue. Miriam and Hugh joined Friends of the Earth as co-directors of innovation back in 2017, before taking on the role of co-executive directors in 2020. They have decided to stand down together.

Miriam Turner and Hugh Knowles, outgoing co-executive directors of Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland, said:

“It has been an enormous privilege to lead Friends of the Earth over the last four and a half years. We passionately believe in the role that Friends of the Earth plays in creating change, the combination of local organising and in-house expertise leading to national and international impact. 

“This was beautifully demonstrated by recent huge wins against fossil fuel infrastructure, the Ffos-y-Fran coal mine in Wales, the gas caverns at Larne Lough in Northern Ireland, and supporting Sarah Finch and the Weald Action Group, in their successful legal challenge against oil drilling at Horse Hill in Surrey. All this alongside two High Court wins over the Conservative government’s unlawful climate plans.

“Those who know us well, will know this is not how we wanted our time at Friends of the Earth to end. This job requires huge commitment and if one of us is out, then it simply doesn’t work. This role requires giving 100%, particularly at this critical political moment. We cannot give that right now, which is why we’ve made the difficult decision to stand down.”

Friends of the Earth’s board and trustees would like to express their appreciation to Hugh and Miriam for their dedication to the organisation and to recognise their achievements.

Dr Eva Neitzert, chair of Friends of the Earth Limited, said: “Miriam and Hugh’s strong commitment to the values of Friends of Earth informed all their work. They worked incredibly hard during some of the most challenging circumstances, not least during Covid. Under their leadership, the organisation has put environmental justice at the core of our campaigning work and our ethos of local action through to global impact.”

Sian Ferguson, chair of Friends of the Earth Charitable Trust, said: “Hugh and Miriam are bright, thoughtful and compassionate leaders. Under their stewardship, Friends of the Earth has achieved major legal wins in the UK that will hasten a fair, fossil fuel free future. They have pioneered job-sharing in an executive role in our sector and overseen the successful introduction of a four-day working week. I look forward to seeing what they do next.”

Friends of the Earth’s board is working closely with staff on an interim arrangement, while a permanent replacement for the co-executive director role is found.