Sue co-founded Bioregional in 1994 because she wanted to develop and implement more sustainable ways of producing the products we need and of living our lives to reduce our human impact on the natural world.
Sue co-founded Bioregional’s One Planet Living initiative in 2003. As part of this, she established partnerships and worked with partners including UK home improvement retailer B&Q on One Planet Home, Chinese real estate developer China Merchants on their Jinshan 6,000 home eco-community in Guangzhou and with the London Borough of Sutton on their local authority wide One Planet Sutton initiative.
In 2005, Sue worked with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games bid team to write the sustainability strategy for the bid, Towards a One Planet Olympics. After London won the Games, Sue and the Bioregional team subsequently worked on delivery; from carbon footprint through on-site sustainability support to running the One Planet sustainability exhibition in the athletes’ village.
Sue has pioneered work on sustainable paper and textile production at Bioregional. She led research into the use of hemp for textiles and established associated sustainable businesses including London’s first kerbside recycling for SMEs, The Laundry, sold in 2010, and cleantech company Bioregional MiniMills Ltd where Sue is a Director.
Sue has always worked hard to leverage the work of Bioregional to inform and improve Government policies and industry best practice and to support the implementation of these policies.
A London Sustainable Development Commissioner since 2002, Sue wrote the influential paper All New Homes Should Be Zero Carbon in 2003, which subsequently became government policy. Most recently Sue led the work of the LSDC with the Greater London Authority and BSI to establish PAS2070, a standard for measuring consumption based greenhouse gas impacts of cities which won a C40 award in 2014. Sue is a CoRE fellow and member of the RSA and the Academy of Urbanism.
As a member of the UK Government Eco-towns challenge panel Sue was lead author of its What Makes an Eco-town report published with CABE in 2008 which informed the UK government’s eco-towns planning policy statement. Bioregional continues to work on eco-towns today.
Sue also led the work of Bioregional to engage with UN Rio+20 sustainable development process during 2011-12, bringing the lessons of Bioregional’s and partners’ 20 years of practical experience and championing the Sustainable Development Goals. Bioregional is now the NGO focal point for SCP in the SDGs and has accreditation and a staff presence at the UN.
In 2011, Sue was chosen as a Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur, in partnership with the World Economic Forum, and was a winner in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards for the London & South Region. In 2009 Sue won a prestigious Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship. In 2012 she was voted one of the UK’s Top 50 Green Leaders by Building Design and Inspirational Leader by Climate Week. Sue was awarded an OBE in the 2013 New Year Honours list by the Queen for services to sustainable business and to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Sue is married to Bioregional co-founder Pooran Desai and lives at BedZED. Her three children have grown up now and Sue is proud that they share her sustainability and social justice approach to living their own lives. She always likes to cook from scratch and some people have said that her dal is the best they ever tasted. Sue can’t quite manage to get the hang of her allotment and every summer she brings in huge courgettes to the office for us all to take home.