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ClientEarth Communications

13 July 2022

About ClientEarth

ClientEarth announces Laura Clarke OBE as its new CEO

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Laura Clarke OBE as our new CEO.  

Laura will join ClientEarth on 5th September and our founding CEO James Thornton will transition into the non-executive role of Founder and President.  

Laura is moving to ClientEarth from her role as British High Commissioner to New Zealand and has spent 20 years in Government, and diplomatic roles across Africa, Asia and Europe. During that time, she has worked extensively on climate, environmental and sustainability issues. Laura brings a deep understanding of global policy issues and international relations, alongside extensive senior leadership and partnership-building experience, all of which will be critical as we expand our impact globally. 

As British High Commissioner, she worked to strengthen the UK-New Zealand relationship, including through the negotiation of a standard-setting Free Trade Agreement, co-operation with New Zealand and the South Pacific during the UK’s COP26 Presidency, and work on international security. She also worked to strengthen the UK’s relationship with New Zealand Māori. In her role as Governor of the Pitcairn Islands she was responsible for the governance and sustainability of the Islands, and efforts to maximize the benefits of its Marine Protected Area – the fourth largest in the world.  

 Commenting on her appointment Laura said:   

“I am delighted to have the opportunity to lead such a pioneering and effective organisation at this critical time for our planet. ClientEarth has delivered enormous impact in the 15 years since James founded it, and I am looking forward to working with its brilliant team and supporters to build on that success. This is an exciting new chapter, as ClientEarth expands its impact globally, working to bring the change we need to protect all life on earth. I can’t wait to get started.”    

Howard Covington, ClientEarth Chair, said:   

“We are hugely excited by Laura’s appointment. She will bring the leadership, energy and global policy expertise that ClientEarth needs to deliver the greatest possible impact over this critical decade for the future of our planet. She is just the person to build on James’s fantastic achievement in creating ClientEarth and turning it into one of the world’s most impactful environmental organisations.”   

Although James Thornton will no longer be part of the day-to-day leadership of the organisation, he will continue to be involved with ClientEarth, offering legal expertise and strategic advice, and acting as a powerful external representative.