Heroes of Environmental Diplomacy: Profiles in Courage 

Available Now.



Written with Chris Spence -Heroes of Environmental Diplomacy shows that today more than ever, when the world is beset by environmental, social, healthcare and economic challenges, we need courage in our politics, both nationally and globally. This book tells the stories, some for the first time, of twelve individuals who made heroic contributions to protecting our planet through ground-breaking international treaties.

Can individuals change the world? Today, when impersonal forces and new technologies seem to be directing our lives and even our entire planet in ways we cannot control, this question feels more relevant than ever before. This book argues that we can all make a difference. It tells inspiring stories of individuals who have had a global impact that is beyond dispute, as well as others who have brought about change that is understated or hard to measure, where the scale of the impact will only become clear in years to come. While some are scientists, others are politicians, diplomats, activists, and even businesspeople. However, they all share the qualities of perseverance, patience, a willingness to innovate or try new approaches, and the endurance to continue over years, even decades, to pursue their goal. Drawing on interviews and the inside stories of those involved, each chapter follows one or more of these heroic individuals, a list which includes Luc Hoffmann, Mostafa Tolba, Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, Raul Oyuela Estrada, Barack Obama and Paula Caballero.

Presenting an uplifting and gripping narrative, this book is an invaluable resource for students, scholars, activists and professionals who are seeking to understand how consensus is reached in these global meetings and how individuals can have a genuine impact on preserving our planet and reinforcing the positive message that global cooperation can actually work.


"Heroes of Environmental Diplomacy is a fascinating read. While many books focus just on the issues, this one provides valuable insights into the people who made things happen. As someone who has been involved in the UN and intergovernmental negotiations for many years, I can attest to the importance of unique individuals in helping secure success. As we enter a critical decade for humanity in our struggle with both climate change and biodiversity, this book shows we can succeed in crafting a path to a more sustainable future and illustrates the role individual heroes can play."

Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the UN Environment Programme’s Convention on Biological Diversity

"Tina Turner couldn’t have been more wrong when she sang ‘We don’t need another hero’. As this book shows, humanity has always needed heroes to prevent short-termist, populist and destructive forces holding sway and leading the charge towards environmental ruin. Who will step forward and be the heroes of this decade? Heaven knows they’re sorely needed – and this book shows with both depth and colour what heroism entails and what it brings."

Richard Black, Honorary Research Fellow, Grantham Institute, Imperial College, former BBC Environment Correspondent

"Heroes of Environmental Diplomacy" opens with this simple question "What makes a hero?" The answers are found woven in the inspiring stories of the courageous, ordinary people profiled in this treasure of a storybook. Readers will enjoy an intimate look at the struggles, perseverance, hope, and stamina that inspired the people highlighted in the book to work tirelessly to turn aspirations into realities. This treasure of a book will greatly expand the knowledge base of the foreign policy community, but equally important it will inspire a whole new generation of justice-seekers to keep on talking, writing, debating, compromising - and ultimately creating the future agreements needed to secure the brighter future these ordinary heroes have gifted us the opportunity to pursue."  

Mark Ritchie, Global Minnesota 

"Heroes of Environmental Diplomacy makes a profound contribution to the literature on global governance innovation by detailing the practical, creative, and often-times courageous ways diplomats have navigated complex and politically fraught multilateral environmental negotiations. With original insights on circumventing spoilers and mobilizing multi-actor coalitions for progressive environmental change, the book will serve as an important playbook for policy researchers, practitioners, and advocates concerned with updating global institutions, legal instruments, and other arrangements to address current and emerging global challenges."

Dr. Richard PonzioSenior Fellow and Director, Global Governance, Justice & Security Prram, Stimson Center

"In Greek mythology, the hero was half a God. The etymology remains but the meaning has evolved and become more varied. A hero has become a sort of superwoman/superman and protector, a brave and courageous person, in brief, a winner. In French a héros can be the main protagonist of a narrative. Their trait of character is to be embodied in an ideal system of values, to show self-sacrifice in front of critics and perseverance in a world that is often disheartening. Their feats and achievements must be reported to be models of excellence. This is all the merit of the present publication. During my career, I had the privilege to meet several of the heroes described within, who deserve to be mentioned. The French author Malraux wrote: "There is no hero, without an audience". I would say that they have mostly been convincing leaders. Indeed, they were seasoned negotiators and brilliant spokespersons, supported, however, by dedicated assistants conducting specific discussions. Corridor diplomacy is essential in the multilateral arena. Therefore, the whole cast are heroes!"

Marcel A. Boisard, PhD, Former UN Assistant Secretary General and Executive Director of UNITAR

"History is not the result of anonymous or mechanic forces, but of human action. And human action, while shaped by environmental and social factors, essentially means that human leadership is important to shape history’s course. This has sometimes been overlooked, and that is especially true for environmental history, since here the natural focus is exactly on environmental factors and social activities as aggregates more than individual action. But also environmental protection has a deeply human side and it is good that the new book edited by Felix Dodds and Chris Spence, Heroes of Environmental Diplomacy: Profiles in Courage, brings to the forefront those who have fought on the international stage for rules making the world more a fair, equitable and sustainable for all of us to live in together. It is interesting to see a common thread for the chapters, namely that not only professionalism and success, but also the human side and compassion of the actors is important for their career. Regardless of their focus, more technical ones like the ‘Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal’ or more conservation-driven once, environmental conventions, treaties and events like the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the International Whaling Commission or the Rio Earth summit, show that environmental heroes need professionalism and compassion. This book is a welcome addition to the existing, more technical literature on environmental history well suited for students, academics and people working in the field of international environmental cooperation."

Dr. Bernhard Seliger, Resident Representative Hanns Seidel Foundation - Korea Office


"I have read this book with pleasure. The book concept is refreshing and gives in a fascinating personalized insight into how important steps on global environmental progress have been achieved. The authors manage to write the various stories in a way which is highly readable and give great background about serious issues and at times amusing characterizations of people who have been global environmental heroes. Definitely recommended reading for those interested in environment and the way of international negotiations proceed".

Rob Visserformer Acting Director of the Environment Directorate, OECD


"Heroes of Environmental Diplomacy vividly illustrates how leadership arises from necessity and how individuals with vision and stubborn optimism make diplomacy and multilateralism work and bring lasting results for human development. This is a very accessible book for anyone interested to learn about how some of the most important struggles in multilateral environmental history have been won, and the inspiring individuals at the center of those achievements."

Tom Rivett-Carnac, Founder, Global Optimism


My new book Stakeholder Democracy: Represented Democracy in A Time of Fear (Routledge) is on advance order on amazon - out July 9th.  

I would also like to thank my co-authors Jan-Gustav Strandenaes, Carolina Duque Chopitea, Minu Hemmati, Susanne Salz, Bernd Lakemeier, Laura Schmitz, and Jana Borkenhagen for their chapters - which are awesome!! While underscoring that my co-authors do not necessarily agree with the chapters written by other people.

The book will be out in July for the High-Level Political Forum where we will be launching the book. Let me share with you the introduction for the book...and a few reviews out already.


“A revolution is coming — a revolution which will be peaceful if we are wise enough; compassionate if we care enough; successful if we are fortunate enough — But a revolution which is coming whether we will it or not. We can affect its character; we cannot alter its inevitability.” (Kennedy, 1966) - continued in my blog here.

"As this book documents, not all stakeholder engagement in multilateral processes has been impactful. It shares valuable lessons about what has worked and what hasn’t." - Rt Hon Helen Clark, taken from the Foreword

"To mobilize action globally in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will require buy-in and commitments not just from governments, but from all segments of society. This book addresses a major component of that challenge – involving stakeholders in every part of the process to deliver on the promise of the SDGs. Many of the contributors have long led efforts to build an inclusive and democratic framework for delivering on sustainable development. Their experience, insights and analysis of what works and what doesn’t not only make the case for the benefits of multi-stakeholderism, but allows them to develop crucial practical and detailed guidance on making multi-stakeholder policy dialogues and partnerships legitimate, effective, and accountable." - Steven Bernstein, Professor of Political Science and Co-director of the Environmental Governance Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, University of Toronto, Canada.

"This book is extremely timely. The ability for government institutions to deal with challenges to our society and planet is seemly getting worse day by the day. Government institutions need to be re imagined and this book offers a vision that can help institutions to be more inclusive to society and respectful to nature by their design. The basic idea is to formally involve stakeholders in government decision making and therefore have society at large committed to implementation of policies, delivered through a sense of ownership and partnership. This vision can empower representative democracy in a time of fear of conflict and economic collapse to deal with social inequality and environmentally degradation" - Professor Patrick Paul Walsh, Director of the UCD Centre for Sustainable Development Studies, Senior Advisor UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network

"For those of us wondering "what exactly does stakeholders mean?" this book provides a comprehensive and useful answer. Beyond that, it outlines the concept of stakeholder democracy both in historical overview and in contemporary political context, as the inevitable next step in democratic progress. Stakeholder Democracy: Represented Democracy in a Time of Fear distills decades of knowledge into an engaging, enlightening read, democratically disseminating the wisdom usually only gleaned through a coffee with one of its authors. In UN advocacy, precedent is everything. Outlining the best examples of stakeholder engagement, this book is a guiding light for the next generation of non-government actors seeking to influence global policy." - Kathryn Tobin, Advocacy Coordinator, WaterAid

"Multi-stakeholder engagement is fundamental for a coherent and integrated implementation of the SDGs. Stakeholders contribute to mobilising resources, informing policy, identifying innovative solutions, supporting transformations and voicing the needs of underrepresented communities. A strong partnership means engaging stakeholders effectively by granting them equal and fair opportunities to be informed and consulted in decision-making. The book "Stakeholder Democracy: Represented Democracy in a Time of Fear" depicts well how partnerships must be aligned with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. With this aspiration, the OECD created the PCSD Partnership that brings together governments, international organisations, civil society, think tanks, the private sector and other stakeholders from all regions of the world, committed and working to enhance policy coherence for sustainable development (SDG 17.14)." - Ebba Dohlman, OECD's head of unit on policy coherence for sustainable development

"It’s democracy, period! This book is a must-read for all who want to understand how to work the 21th century politics. Having worked long years as eminent advisors, actors, and advocates the authors offer deep insider knowledge. Stakeholder are more than just the opposite to economic shareholder. Stakeholder democracy is part of the mainstream institutional and parliamentary governance. Even more so, engagement of people helps keeping democracies lively, effective and resourceful. This book carefully sketches out how stakeholder democracy came to be the prime important ingredient to our common future. When it comes to ensuring a decent life for all within the planetary boundaries being transparent, reliable, constructively positive are the virtues of cooperation - as opposed to being absorbed in elitist turf battles and selfish positioning in the global awareness economy. For public and stakeholder politics there what can be learned from the rich narrative of this book might simply start a new Stakeholder Social Responsibility." - Günther Bachmann, General Secretary to the German Council for Sustainable Development and activist in a series of stakeholder setups

"There is no doubt about the power of the collective to change the world, even more now, when we are increasingly interconnected. In order for the collective effort to be effective, numbers matter, but strategy is key. This book, which emphasizes multi-stakeholder democracy, makes a truly important contribution to how the whole of society can, and should, come together to solve the world's most pressing problems. This compelling work calls for reflection and action, two sides of the coin of transformative change." - Claudia Mansfield LaRue, Former G77+China negotiator of the United Nations "Towards Global Partnerships Resolution" International Recruitment and Partnerships Specialist, Montclair State University, USA

"Just as the fundamentals of the international architecture are being challenged and on the brink of a period of renewal, there could be no better time to revisit the power and presence of stakeholder democracy as a force for positive change. This book shows how stakeholder democracy can enable us to make the transition to a sustainable future in a way that addresses the political upheaval of our times, and the necessary shift from authoritarian-populism to a people-lead social and political renaissance." - Andrew Higham, Chief Executive of Mission 2020

"There is a vast body of scholarly literature on non-state actors in governance of sustainable development, amongst other in partnerships. There is an even larger body of academic publications on democracy – a crucial principle underpinning meaningful engagement of stakeholders in policy-making and implementation. This book, by a great team of experienced advocates of and specialists in stakeholder engagement, brings these topics together and in a historic context – not from an ivory tower perspective, but from constructive critical "Vienna Cafe" perspective. And this makes the book a must-read for all the diplomats, bureaucrats, lobbyist, scientists, and civil society representatives who crowd this coffee corner in the basement of the UN Headquarters." - Ruben Zondervan, Executive Director, Stakeholder Forum



The Friends of Governance for Sustainable Development have continued to host workshops on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2018. 

Governance for Sustainable Development Volume 3: Preparing for the Heads of State Review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Paperback  was edited by Felix Dodds (Author, Editor), Akinremi Bolaji (Editor), Yeongmoo Cho (Editor), Verena Klinger-Dering (Editor), Cristina Popescu (Editor), David Banisar (Editor), Quinn McKew (Editor).

The 2030 Agenda represents one of the most important sets of Global Goals that the international community has committed to. It is an unprecedented effort that embodies universal aspirations for achieving a more just, equitable, peaceful and sustainable future. It is an excellent example of successful multilateralism. 

Governance for Sustainable Development: Implementing the 2030 Agenda Volume 2 (April 2018) edited by Felix Dodds David BanisarAkinremi BolajiYeongmoo ChoReinhard Krapp and  Quinn McKew. Available from here. 

Achieving sustainable development requires an enabling environment. Governance plays a crucial role in creating those conditions, notably, for our purposes in the implementation of the 2030 sustainable development agenda process. From creating new platforms to reforming old ones, the process must live up to this standard and its mechanisms should be geared towards fostering this type of new international environment and cooperation for sustainable development. This is the second volume produced by the Friends Group. The first volume presented the period from late 2014 to the end of 2015. The Group also has a website which it places the papers that are being discussed at the Friends Group’s meetings, which can be found here. The chapters of this book are a reflection of the rich contributions made by governments, intergovernmental bodies and stakeholders in the three workshops that the Friends Group hosted in 2017.


Power to the People: Confessions of a Young Liberal Activist 1975 to 1988 February 2018 and available from here. 

This book explores the role that the Young Liberal Green Guard had on UK politics in the 1980s. It aims to inspire future young politicians of whatever political views the truth of Margaret Meads statement that: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” Felix Dodds was Chair of the National League of Young Liberals (1985-1987). He was also a member of the Liberal Party Council (1983-86). His has written or edited fifteen books the first of which was ‘Into the Twenty-First Century: An Agenda for Political Realignment. (1988)’. He was an Advisory Editor for New Democrat International (1988-1992). He is the President of Amber Valley Liberal Democrats.

Santa’s Green Christmas: Father Christmas Battles Climate Change Kindle Edition by Felix Dodds (Author), Michael Strauss (Author), John Charles (Illustrator) November 2016

Santa’s Green Christmas is the newest comic in the Comics Uniting Nations series, a collaboration between top comic artists, UNICEF, The World’s Largest Lesson, PCI Media Impact and Reading With Pictures.

It hones in on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate Action.

Negotiating the Sustainable Development Goals: A transformational agenda for an insecure world is written by Felix Dodds, Ambassador David Donoghue and Jimena Leiva Roesch  tells the story of the Sustainable Development Goals (November 2016). Available here. 

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a universal set of seventeen goals and 169 targets, with accompanying indicators, which were agreed by UN member states to frame their policy agendas for the fifteen-year period from 2015 to 2030. Written by three authors who have been engaged in the development of the SDGs from the beginning, this book offers an insider view of the process and a unique entry into what will be seen as one of the most significant negotiations and global policy agendas of the twenty-first century. 

The book reviews how the SDGs were developed, what happened in key meetings and how this transformational agenda, which took more than three years to negotiate, came together in September 2015. It dissects and analyzes the meetings, organizations and individuals that played key roles in their development. It provides fascinating insights into the subtleties and challenges of high-level negotiation processes of governments and stakeholders, and into how the SDGs were debated, formulated and agreed. It is essential reading for all interested in the UN, sustainable development and the future of the planet and humankind.


'The Water, Food, Energy and Climate Nexus: Challenges and an Agenda for Action' (September 2017) edited by Felix Dodds and Jamie Bartram with a foreword by HRH the Prince of Wales. Available from here. 

This book is one of the first to provide a broad overview of both the science behind the Nexus and the implications for policies and sustainable development.

It brings together contributions by leading intergovernmental and governmental officials, industry, scientists and other stakeholder thinkers who are working to develop the approaches to the Nexus of water-food-energy and climate.

It represents a major synthesis and state-of-the-art assessment of the Nexus by major players, in light of the adoption by the United Nations of the new Sustainable Development Goals and Targets in 2015."


From Rio+20 to the New Development Agenda by Felix Dodds, Jorge Laguna-Celis and Liz Thompson (Feb 2014). Available from here. 

Twenty years after the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, "The Earth Summit", the Rio+20 conference in 2012 brought life back to sustainable development. It did that by putting it at the centre of a new global development partnership, one in which sustainable development is the basis for eradicating poverty, upholding human development and transforming economies.

This book is written by participants involved in the Rio+20 negotiations, it presents a unique insider analysis of not only what happened and why. It also identifies where the outcomes might impact in the future, particularly in the UN development agenda beyond 2015.

The book throws light on the changing nature of multilateralism and questions frequent assumptions on how policy is defined within the UN. It shows that Rio+20 was more than an international meeting; it represented a culminating point of decades of successes and failures and a watershed moment for seminal concepts, ideas and partnerships including the Green Economy, zero tolerance on land degradation, the introduction of Sustainable Development Goals, the creation of national measurements of consumption, production and well-being that are intended to go beyond GDP, the introduction of national green accounting and the commitment of billions of dollars for sustainable development partnerships, including Sustainable Energy for All.

 Quotes on the book:

"There are many who are only too happy to dismiss multilateral negotiations because of their painfully slow progress and bizarre esoteric practices. Sections of the media feel cliché bound to portray them as a junket circuit for politicians and officials, and delight in calling them a waste of time and money. And it is undoubtedly the case that drive, passion, ideas and excitement is much more obvious in the myriad of grassroots peoples’ movements around the world campaigning for change; in the dynamic partnerships between forward thinking cities and regions; and in the innovative approaches that thousands of communities and some leading companies are taking to address the challenges and opportunities of sustainable development. But if these thousands of actions aiming to create a better world are to come together in a way that enables humanity to prosper fairly within environmental limits, we need to keep our faith in a vision of multilateralism where the world’s countries, slowly but surely, build the common frameworks that are needed to deliver genuine sustainable development. This book does an excellent job of documenting the journey to the Rio+20, the details and outcomes of the summit negotiations, and critically what needs to happen in the years ahead. It makes sense of where we have got to on this long journey, and where we need to go next. Nothing could be more important."– Craig Bennett, Director of Policy and Campaigns, Friends of the Earth (England, Wales and Northern Ireland)

 "Long-term sustainability solutions can only be brokered at the international level – and a huge amount of energy and expertise has gone into those international agendas since 1972. Through the Stakeholder Forum, Felix Dodds has been at the heart of that global diplomacy for more than 20 years, allowing him and his co-authors, Liz Thompson and Jorge Laguna Celis to draw on that wealth of experience and theirs in order to map out a robust and inspiring road map for a better world." –Jonathon Porritt, Founder Director, Forum for the Future and former Chair of Stakeholder Forum

 "This is the ultimate ‘insider’s guide’ to the Rio+20 process, taking the reader from the preliminary discussions back in 2007 all the way through the conference itself and into the future. In tabloid terminology, Felix Dodds, Jorge Laguna Celis and Liz Thompson give us ‘the thrills, the spills, the personalities and power-plays’ that shaped the summit and its diverse outcome. Whether you regard the outcome as primarily a missed opportunity due to its fundamental incompatibility with respect for planetary boundaries and its failure to match President Lula’s pre-conference vision of an event that would lead to ‘a new and more balanced distribution of wealth’ in the world, as I continue to do, or whether you share the authors’ optimism regarding the re-moulding of international institutions and the voluntary commitments secured in Rio, this book will give you a deeper and broader understanding of why Rio reached the outcomes it did. And as it makes clear, there is still much to play for, particularly in regard of the sustainable development goals, which could yet provide impetus for a global move towards the future we both want and need." – Richard Black, former BBC Environment Correspondent

 Governance for Sustainable Development: Ideas for the Post 2015 Agenda edited by edited by: Hoonmin Lim, Sara Luna and Oana Rebedea, David Banisar Felix Dodds and Quinn McKew (2015). Available from here. 
"The inextricable link between good governance and sustainable development was acknowledged in the Rio+20 Declaration “The Future We Want”. Moreover, the Report of the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda further elaborated on this issue and made a call for all countries to recognize the need for responsive, legitimate and democratic institutions, at all levels.
 Mindful of these challenges, the governments of Mexico, Romania and the Republic of Korea, with the technical support of the Tellus Institute and the organization ARTICLE 19, reinvigorated the “Group of Friends of the Governance for Sustainable Development”, which was created in the preparation of the Rio+20 Conference, as a flexible and informal space to discuss issues related to good governance and foster cooperation between multiple actors in the context of the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
 The Group of Friends also aims to contribute to the discussions of the institutional architecture for the Agenda’s implementation, follow-up and review. Thus, the Group convened government representatives, UN officials, experts, and civil society in November 2014, January and May 2015 to three participatory workshops on governance and the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
 We expect the present publication to be a useful input for the ongoing discussions about the institutional architecture for the Post-2015 Agenda. Our generation has now the opportunity to redefine the future and bring real, significant, transformative and universal change for and with the people, leaving no one behind. However, sustainable development will only become a reality if we have the enabling environment for it to happen. Thus, good governance will be pivotal for implementing, reviewing and improving the Post-2015 Development Agenda. We expect that this publication contributes to the colossal, but encouraging, challenges we will be facing during the next 15 years."  
Ambassador Choong-hee HAHN, Ambassador Simona-Mirela Miculescu and Ambassador Jorge Montaño



Felix Dodds latest Report (2008):The Donostia Declaration  San Sebastian Spain. Edited with Hannah Stoddart, Derek Osborn, and Michael Strauss  (2008) see other reports by Felix Dodds by clicking on the right hand side section.

Felix Dodds latest Academic Paper (2013): Acting to Address the Ocean-Related Impacts of Climate Change on Human and National Security,with Recommendations for Priority Actions drawn from the discussions of the Global Conference on Oceans, Climate and Security at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Writing with Geoffrey Lipman we produced an article on the 17th of September just before the Heads of State Summit  '2015: 'Once in a lifetime' chance for green growth and travelism'.

“Travelism thrives on peace and sustainability and is an essential contributor to it. Tourism which is such an important contributor to the economies of most countries provides them with a strong incentive to maintain internal security, protect the human rights of their people…and provide them with expanding opportunities.”

- Maurice Strong, secretary general of the Stockholm (1972) and Rio (1992) United Nations conferences.




Felix Dodds latest Pamphlets and Briefings:Stakeholder Democracy Millennium Paper 7 (2004) see other pamphlets and briefings by clicking on the right hand side section.


Felix Dodds latest Training material:Multistakeholder Dialogue Toolkit produced by Civicus written by Emily Benson and Felix Dodds (2010)




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