We’re a student-led movement that empowers young people with the knowledge, skills and confidence to make change happen, at home and globally.
Over the past three years, student activists have::
- pressured over 1 in 3 UK universities to commit to divest from the fossil fuel industry
- pushed 56 UK institutions to take action on sweatshops by joining Electronics Watch
- got over 60 journalists and politicians to sign up to the principles for ethical reporting on migraion
For more about our recent work, see About People & Planet.
Third World First (as we were then named) was set up at the end of 1969 by students involved with Oxfam. We raised a lot of money for overseas projects by asking students to sign up to regular standing order donations - something that was groundbreaking at the time - and as these were the days of student grants, many students voluntarily offered 1% of their grant money as a self imposed tax.
Pepsi's bottling plant in Burma was helping encourage tourism to the military controlled state where political prisinors were often held in dog cages. Aung San Suu Kyi's government in exile had called to help get Pepsi out. After less than just six months of campaigning by People & Planet (then Third World First), Pepsi pulled out.
A democratic process led to a new name, People & Planet.
The new name was announced to an audience of about a thousand students at our national Shared Planet event. As well as moving away from the out-dated concept of a "third world", the new name communicated our holistic and radical analysis: humans are not independenent of the planet we live on. At a time when other organisations tended to focus just on poverty, or just on human rights or just on environmental issues, we led the way in seeing all these issues as interlinked.
After a sustained two-year campaign with university staff and students our Ethics for USS campaign persuaded the £20 billion lecturers’ pension fund to adopt a socially responsible investment policy. They were the first big pension fund in the UK to adopt a socially responsible investment policy.
After 2 years campaigning as part of the Jubilee 2000 campaign coalition, over £20 billion of debt cancellation was agreed at international summits in response. Students in the People & Planet network delivered petitions with 80,000 signatures to the government - the second-largest total generated by any organisation.
We helped organise and took part in the second Stop Esso day - 4,000 people protested about the influence Exxon/Mobil was exerting to prevent the US from signing up to the Kyoto Protocol.
Esso cancelled their university recruitment tour after two years of P&P campaigning.
Our Green Electricity Campaign concluded having resulted in a twenty fold increase in the number of universities buying renewable electricity - saving 275,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide being released every year. The end of this campaign launched a new and wider Going Greener campaign on sustainability in universties.
The government and EU conceded to the demands of our Defend Education - Stop GATS campaign by deciding not to include higher education in the profit-driven free trade treaty.
Later we would learn what a huge impact our campaigning actually since there were more submissions on education than any other issue! The government concluded: “in the light of the comments received, the EC’s offer includes no new commitments in educational services.” In other words: they admit we won the argument.
The G8 came to Scotland - People & Planet were there to meet them with our Summer Festival, which included key note speakers, skills workshops and campaign actions:
After months of campaigning, the Government committed to introducing a Climate Change Bill at the state opening of Parliament.
The announcement comes after months of campaigning for a Climate Bill by Stop Climate Chaos. People & Planet groups around the country, including Edinburgh and Aberystwyth, have lobbied dozens of MPs, massively increasing the pressure on the Government to introduce the Bill. On 4 November, People & Planet’s Carnival of Climate Chaos made a colourful and passionate contribution to the I Count event in Trafalgar Square, where 25,000 people gathered to demand real action on climate change.
The award was given for the newly launched People & Planet University League (then called "Green League") - the first ever league table comparing the environmental performance of UK universities. The People & Planet University League attracted attention within the sector and without, with more than 50 websites and news stories worldwide covering the story. It has driven incredible changes in the sector ever since.
Persuaded the UK government to lead an international commitment to provide treatment for all by 2010 — millions more now receive treatment
Supported countries’ rights to access affordable treatment for their people — last year we helped 8,000 more people in Thailand get treatment, and in July 2008 the first steps were taken toward setting up a new international mechanism to bring down the cost of essential medicines.
Increased the international funding for HIV/AIDS
Following the bail out of RBS, the majority of it was owned by the public and we argued that the government should be using its shareholding to invest in a low-carbon future not dirty fossil fuels.
The High Court ruled that the Treasury can ignore climate change and human rights but the fight was not over and we continued to work towards our sustainable vision in our Ditch Dirty Development campaigning that followed.
1,200 Honduran garment workers got their jobs back after Fruit of the Loom/Russell agree to reopen Honduran factory after ‘biggest student boycott since Apartheid’.
Thousands of young people joined The Wave protests in 2009 demanding tough action on climate change. As the historic UN climate talks opened in Copenhagen, young people called for “Climate Justice”. People & Planet students traveled from all over the country to attend from schools, colleges and universities. They led the march in mass “flashdances” and rolled a giant Wave machine through the streets of London.
Nike agree to pay $1.5 million legally mandated severance pay to Honduran workers after People & Planet joined in solidarity with workers and the United Students Against Sweatshops campaign calling on Nike to "Just Pay It!". All the workers' demands were met.
We took a group of 8 student activists accompanied by two People & Planet staff and a film crew to Canada for the Tarsands Youth Solidarity Exchange project with the Beaver Lake Cree Nation. Seeing the destruction caused by the tar sands industry firsthand has inspired both Cree and UK students to redouble their efforts to stop further tar sands oil extraction on their traditional lands. The project also resulted in a feature length documentary Taking on Tarmageddon which was screened across the country to educate others about tar sands.
Our Going Greener Campaign supported students across the UK to make sustainability on campus more than changing light bulbs and insulating pipes. Students got creative and created engaging initiatives to green their universities and towns.
We persuaded the UK government to abstain from a key vote on the EU Fuel Quality Directive that would keep dirty tar sands oil out of Europe. Norman Baker was planning to vote No under intense pressure from Canadian lobbyists but over 16,000 emails & creative actions from students helped to shift the Government’s position. A huge win for people-power.
Adidas agreed to pay their former workers $1.8 million in legally-owed redundancy pay after a two-year campaign by workers and students across the globe.
Education Secretary Michael Gove decided to drop climate change from the curriculum. People & Planet supporters joined thousands of people around the country in telling Gove and Energy Secretary Ed Davey not to be stupid on the climate, and managed to reverse their decision.
Further action in schools and colleges resulted in the first 8 signatories to People & Planet's Green Education Declaration for schools and colleges - a public commitment to get serious about the environment.
People & Planet launched the Fossil Free campaign to divest UK universities’ £5.2 billion investments in fossil fuels and sever their ties to an industry fueling the climate crisis.
In October 2013, we organised a high-profile tour of the UK with 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben which catapulted the issue of divestment onto media front pages and mobilised a whole new generation of student climate activists. Within a couple of months over 30 local groups had started campaigning for their universities to divest.
The University of Edinburgh became the first higher education institution in the UK to become a member of Electronics Watch.
Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges blacklists fossil fuel companies as sponsors
EAUC were accepting sponsorship from British Gas for their national conference where environment managers from UK universities and colleges come to discus how to make our institutions more sustainable.
After students and staff demanded they stopped the greenwash and drop them as a sponsor for all future events - they quickly blacklisted all fossil fuel companies from their events.
The UK government is denying basic human rights through racist policies. In 2014, a policy to create a 'hostile environment' was implemented. We have seen not just the overt blatant physical borders come to the fore, but also the everyday borders that deny undocumented migrants basic human rights. Resulting in being denied access to health care, education and housing, falling hand in hand with the ever rising racist abuse towards people from a migrant background.
Electronics Watch celebrates its first full consortium affiliation, and tenth UK University. Advanced Procurement for Universities and Colleges (APUC), the purchasing consortium for Scotland's Universities and Colleges. All of APUC's 44 higher and further educational institutions became Consortium Affiliates of Electronics Watch through APUC. This was the first time a whole sector of public bodies in a country had affiliated, and demonstrated the push within the sector in Scotland to achieve a transparent and fair supply chain for the products they purchase.
Public service union UNISON became the first trade union in the UK to ensure the electronics they purchase are independently monitored for workers’ rights violations. UNISON joined the growing number of institutions in Europe that have already affiliated to Electronics Watch.
Over 150 journalists and politicians sign on to our new Principles for Ethical Reporting on Migration. We worked young migrants, Migrants' Rights Network and reporters to develop a set of ten principles that ask journalists and public figures signed up to, committing to working to change the way the media talks about migrants.
University of Edinburgh announced it would move its entire investment portfolio out of the fossil fuel industry over the next three years. The University currently holds £6.3million in fossil fuels companies: Total, Atlas Copco and BG Group. The University’s endowment is the third largest in the UK, behind Cambridge and Oxford, making the decision the largest full divestment of any UK university so far. This came after a long-running student campaign and the University's 2015 decision to divest from coal & tar sands following a 10-day occupation.
Glasgow University became the first academic institution in Europe to divest from the fossil fuel industry, in a turning point for the Fossil Free campaign!
After 12 months of campaigning, led by the Glasgow University Climate Action Society and involving over 1,300 students, the university court voted to begin divesting £18m from the fossil fuel industry and freeze new investments across its entire endowment of £128m.
The number of UK higher education institutions vowing to exclude fossil fuel from investments grew to 43 - a significant milestone as it meant over a quarter of UK universities were now committed to divest from fossil fuels.
UK emerges as campaign’s world leader as nine new institutions announce commitments . Over a third of universities in the UK have made fossil free commitments, as nine new UK universities have committed to never invest in fossil fuel companies. This brings the total to fifty four institutions which have taken action to exclude fossil fuel companies from their investment portfolios.
At the Barclays Annual General Meeting (AGM), the Chairman John McFarlane told shareholders that the bank would be withdrawing their financing of fracking company Third Energy - licensed to frack in Ryedale, North Yorkshire. Barclays owned a 97% controlling stakes in Third Energy. This was a huge victory for the anti-fracking and climate justice movement in the UK, showing the power of organising and building coalitions in our local communities.
Barclays is a major investor in fossil fuel infrastructure across the globe it's time for them to halt their support for the fossil fuel industry before they crash the climate or the economy. Students in the network decided they would build a movement that will get unis to break ties with Barclays, build a mass boycott, end sponsorship deals and show Barclays up for the climate criminal that they are.
Campuses have come a long way in the 10 years of the student-led People & Planet rankings – but there are surprising fails.
Any ranking that puts Oxford and Cambridge near the bottom is bound to be controversial, and we faced a barrage of criticism over our first “green” university league table. A decade on, the ranking has stood the test of time, has expanded to include social justice and workers rights. It's credited with transforming sustainability on campus.
Through our 2 year programme of workshops young people with little knowledge of workers’ rights have gained the knowledge and confidence needed to challenge workers’ rights violations, especially around discrimination and zero-hour contracts.
The Fossil Free campaign hits a major milestone with half of UK universities pledging to divest from fossil fuels. Author and environmentalist, Bill McKibben, says "People & Planet in the UK have done a better job of convincing institutions to divest than anyone anywhere on the globe".