5 Questions for… Philip Monaghan

In the first of our ‘An Interview with an Author’ series, we ask Philip Monaghan five simple questions about his latest book, his extensive work in sustainability and his life as a published author.


1. What was your inspiration for writing Sustainability in Austerity and what do you hope the book achieves or changes?

My inspiration for Sustainability in Austerity was my experience working with the cities and towns over the last three years as the global banking crisis panned out and the realisation that frontline public services would be the first to be cut back in a spending cull. It is ultimately the local government that delivers sustainability, so it was crucial to be able to do more with less during this crisis. I hope the cost neutral interventions put forward and insights from peers around the world enable people on the ground to continue their work and amplify the impact.

2. Who has had the greatest influence on you throughout your life, and on your thinking about sustainability?

The biggest influences in my life have been my parents, who I consider to be the type of local heroes all cities and towns need to thrive, especially in difficult times.

In terms of sustainability I would have to say Simon Zadek and Ed Mayo. Both are geniuses, in different ways.

3. What are the three best books on sustainability? And is what your favourite book of all time?

Top three Sustainable Development books are:

The Civil Corporation
by Simon Zadek
Consumer Kids by Ed Mayo et al
Plan B by Lester Brown

Top book ever? That’s a tough one. Let me pick one of my favourites A Town Like Alice by Neville Shute, a great human story of resilience.

4.What do you think are the major challenges we face in advancing sustainability/CSR – now, and in the next 10 years?

Major challenges in SD now and the next 10 years. Well, to be frank, we have known about the problem for decades – unsustainable consumption and social injustice.

The solution? Well, if people from the north can show as much courage and as the amazing pro democracy protestors in the Middle East, and as much intelligence as the Republic of Korea and China in investing in a green economy, then maybe all is not lost after all.

5. What are you working on now?

In addition to touring with SiA, my time at the moment is spent on working in local government, lecturing, and new research on the concept of “local resilience”.

Penny Walker
Greenleaf Publishing

Philip’s Sustainability in Austerity has recently been named in CPSL’s Top 40 Sustainability Books of 2010.

Simon Zadek described the book as a treasure trove buried in the devilish details of the local, driven by unsung heroes, that will be the currency of sustainability in an era of austerity.


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