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A Tribute to David Middleton FRSA


  • Picture of Phil Beardmore
    Phil Beardmore
  • Fellowship

People in the sustainable development community have been saddened to hear of the recent death of David Middleton FRSA.

David was the CEO of Midlands Environmental Business Company from 1991 to 2013, during which time MEBC became a centre of excellence for businesses who wished to adopt sustainable development practices.  

I first met David in the early 2000s and he always took a keen interest in my work.  At conferences and events, David was a boundary spanner, who would always take time to talk to as many people as he could. He had a very uplifting manner that everyone found encouraging. He seemed to have boundless time and energy.  David was one of the people who introduced me to the RSA.

Prior to his career in sustainability, David first worked as a journalist, writing mostly about motor sports. He also presented the news on local radio.  

He would often say that he was not an environmentalist as a young man, but underwent a “green epiphany” in 1988, when he realised that we needed to move to a sustainable future.  Standing on a bridge in Pittsburgh, and seeing industrial decline not only in Pittsburgh but in Birmingham, and reading about the Aral Sea in Uzbekistan which had become a toxic sump of chemicals and waste, David realised that sustainable development was the only way forward, and that the business community had to lead the world out of the growing environmental crisis.


Mark Clemson, a former board member of MEBC, said of David:

Committed to sustainability even before it was in vogue, forward thinking, and a major ‘connector’. In his quiet manner he could teach, coach and educate to corporates and individuals alike.  But ultimately a thoroughly decent man, who adored his family, loyal to friends and with a ready laugh.”


After leaving MEBC, David turned his writing talents to becoming a published author. He wrote a series of four action novels, highlighting the grim realities of the planetary emergency that we face.  Written in the style of Ian Fleming and John le Carre, David’s four novels, Cobalt, The Hwanung Solution, The Acionna Projects, and The Final Shah Mat, are fast-paced Bond-like thrillers with a topical message.

David is survived by his widow, Jennie, two children and four grandchildren.  For the last five years, David had been the principal organiser of the annual  Climate Change: Turning Consequences into Solutions conference. The organisers are hoping to run this event again as soon as conditions allow.  If previous events are anything to go by, the forthcoming conference will be a fitting tribute to David’s legacy as a leader in sustainable development.  


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