Andy (pictured) has been described as ‘one of the leading environmentalists’ by former Bishop of Liverpool Rt Rev James Jones, who chaired the independent panel on the Hillsborough disaster. ‘He’ll lead not only A Rocha UK – but also the whole Church – to a new level of action towards the earthing of heaven,’ said the bishop.
Aged 55, Andy Atkins most recently led environmental charity Friends of The Earth for seven years, championing nature restoration and bold action on climate change. He previously worked with Catholic international development charities CAFOD and Progressio, before crossing denominational boundaries to set up Tearfund’s policy and campaigns work. He was a founder of the 2005 Make Poverty History campaign.
A key motivation has been his personal Christian faith. The British born son of missionary parents, Andy spent his childhood in northern Australia. ‘I grew up in a beautiful tropical environment alongside racism and other injustice,’ he said. ‘At an early age I realised God cared about these things and thought I’d better do something about it!’
Now married with three children, Andy starts as A Rocha UK’s Chief Executive Officer in January 2016. ‘With climate change and rapid loss of nature, there’s a huge need for churches to play a fuller part in turning round the environmental crisis,’ he said. ‘With its practical experience and theological reflection, A Rocha UK is well placed to help them bring change on a grander scale.’
Welcoming Andy to the organisation, A Rocha UK chair of trustees Steve Hughes said, ‘With his broad experience of charity leadership, coalitions and working across denominations – together with his passion for the environment – Andy is uniquely qualified to take us into the future.’
Reflecting on the appointment, sociologist and theologian Elaine Storkey said, ‘Wonderful news from A Rocha UK that they have secured Andy Atkins as their next CEO. Andy was outstanding as Tearfund’s advocacy director, breaking such important new ground in Tearfund’s awareness and work. He has so competently steered Friends of The Earth, and everyone who knows him admires his visionary, incisive leadership. For me, it is second to none. Well done, A Rocha UK’. (Photo of Andy Atkins by JJ)