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5 Minute GAP - Sonja & Andrew on big challenges bringing new opportunities


As Sonja Graham, our Chief Executive, heads off on her maternity leave, she reflects on the opportunities and challenges for the 12 months ahead with Andrew Pendleton who has just joined Global Action Plan as Director of Strategy and Advocacy and who will be holding the fort as CEO in her absence.


We live in difficult times but together they share their optimism about how this could be a catalyst for deeper change – as Sonja embarks on a time of personal change.



"We Share Freely". The change we want to see in the world is bigger than we are. So, we're sharing our knowledge, resources and ideas to help more people and organisations take steps forward towards our vision of a green and thriving planet, where everyone can enjoy happy and healthy lives within the Earth's limits.


As part of this, we're launching our new "5 Minute GAP" series, a collection of five minute conversations that will share how we work and what we're working on. We'll talk about what we're trying to achieve and why, how we function as an organisation, and the thinking behind our plans and strategy.


We'll be regularly sharing these conversations, which will feature different members of our team and trustee board, as well as external experts.


We hope you enjoy listening in to our chats, getting to know our team and finding out what makes us who we are. 



Audio only version:


If you prefer to read rather than watch, the transcription is here: 


Sonja: Right. So... huge welcome, Andrew. It's your first week at GAP! I know you've been kind of dabbling with us for the last few months, sort of one day a week, but this is the first big week and a low pressure week with our strategy...strategy board day on Friday. So, yeah. How are you feeling?


Andrew: Yeah, really pleased to be starting at GAP. I've been thinking about it for quite a few months now. So it's just a delight to be starting. And it's a really exciting, but kind of difficult time. I don't think we can pretend that the kind of backdrop in the economy and society is easy can we? Because, you know, there's I guess we're hoping we're just coming out of the pandemic. But now, you know, with the kind of geopolitical situation, things are very difficult and, you know, that forces us perhaps to think about some of the things in the economy that aren't working so well. So it's... I guess it feels to me like a really important time to be starting at an organisation like GAP because it's sort of a turning point, or at least it feels like it might be a turning point. In a good way, we hope.

And you know, GAP is an organisation, I think, that can provide a really important set of interventions, if that's not too technical a way of referring to it, into that rather uncertain world where, you know, people are increasingly anxious about the future of the planet and the environment.


Sonja: No, you're right. It's a pretty scary week by all accounts, or scary few weeks by all accounts. With war in Europe and cost of living crisis looming and, you know, increasing sort of conversations within the major parties about backtracking on green commitments. But like you say, I mean, we're in a sort of unprecedented sort of situation now. We've got, you know, a huge amount of support for...for looking at things differently, we've all been forced to try and work and do things differently over the last few years. And we've also been really sort of helped to see what's essential and also who runs and supports our our lives and value those in a very different way to I think perhaps we've done in the past. So I'm very optimistic that we're in a space where we can make 
major change now and that there's real public support to start doing that. So, yeah, I think exciting times, exciting times. And really excited to have have you in your, you know, very different background to come and help GAP think about this and build our campaigning and our work around new economics and a post consumerist world. So yes, very excited.


AndrewBut it's interesting for me because, you know, there's a whole bunch of new disciplines at GAP that I'm less familiar with but I think bring an awful lot of insight into the situation that we're in at the moment. And you know, having the trust of and access to for instance, young people in schools I think is going to be really important because in the end, the things that probably constrain political action and, you know, the policy that we need, the policy changes we need, but also, you know, societal norms is this kind of, you know, it''s a bit like the final scene of Reservoir Dogs, isn't it? Where everyone's standing around staring at each other. And we're all in this situation where it's difficult to be a first mover but actually, and I don't want put this on the shoulders of young people, but young people in particular seem to be the ones that have been breaking ranks in the past few years and saying "this is not a sustainable way to run the world or the economy". And we do need to do something different. And I think that on the one hand, it's unfair to them because they haven't created the problem, but on the other hand, their voices can be incredibly influential in the debate.


Sonja: Yeah, I completely agree. And one, I think really important shifts that GAP's taken over the last year is to start bringing youth voice into our decision making. So bringing in young people on to our board but also supporting youth lead networks across the UK to to really start to debate these things and to input into policy  and be invited to input into policy. So good luck!


Andrew: I thank you Sonja and good luck too, because you've got lots of exciting and interesting times. And you know, that first year with your new-born is such a precious time. I know it's your second time around but they'll surprise and delight you so have the best of years and enjoy it.


Sonja: Yeah I feel I know a little bit more about what I'm in for this time. Which is, which is nice but yeah, it will be fun to watch what goes on from the side-lines and then and re-join and hear what everyone's been up to when I'm hopefully getting a bit more sleep.


Andrew: We'll do our best!