The 7 best books and podcasts on social and environmental impact in 2020

Keeping up to date with the most relevant environmental research and political developments can be incredibly challenging. So here are 7 of the best books and podcasts in this space. Whether you are looking for a concise insight into current progress in climate change mitigation or a longer read about inspiring social impact stories, there is something for you here.

1. Outrage and Optimism

Discussing the most recent progressions in climate politics, outrage and optimism balances the analysis of injustices in the climate world, whilst presenting encouraging solutions from trailblazers around the world. Former UN Chief Christiana Figueres is a knowledgeable and perceptive co-host of the podcast, alongside Paul Dickinson and Tom Rivett-Carnac, both veterans in the area of climate change mitigation. Each brings a different perspective to the discussions, incorporating light humour and easy rapport between them.

Available here

2. Inspiring Social Entrepreneurs

Aimed at spreading the word of the great work of social entrepreneurs around the globe, this podcast examines the inspiring stories of social enterprise founders and changemakers, discussing the lessons they have learnt along their journeys. Host, entrepreneurship and business writer Fergal Byrne, guide the interviews to focus on innovative solutions and gives insight into progression towards social goals at all stages of entrepreneurship.

Available here

3. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide

Formed from anecdotes and a series of essays, this book illustrates the terrible injustices towards women in many less economically developed countries, demanding a movement to bring an end to modern slavery in under-recognised sectors. The Pulitzer Prize-winning husband-and-wife journalist duo then balance this argument by considering the practical ways in which change can take place, discussing the personal stories of socially inclusive grass-roots movements. It is impossible to finish reading this book without feeling inspired to make change.

4. Resources Radio

Resources for the future, a non-profit organization conducting independent research into current sustainability issues, host this podcast. They discuss topics from water pollution to public attitudes towards climate activism, interviewing leading experts in the area of economics and the environment. The podcast is highly educational and explains each issue in a way that makes the science is accessible to all.

Available here

5. Creating room to read: A Story of Hope in the Battle for Global Literacy by John Wood

This powerful story of John Wood, former Microsoft marketing executive, lays out the journey of creating “Room to read”, a non-profit that tackles global illiteracy and the fight for education. After his first book “Leaving Microsoft to Change the World”, which discusses the initial formation of the organisation, this second instalment considers the charity’s next challenges in expanding their impact and developing a sustainable business model. From gender inequality to raising money in a collapsing economy, this book gives insight into what it takes to create a lasting positive impact.

6. Mothers of invention

Combining both social innovation and environmental impact, this upbeat podcast discusses current affairs in climate action. Hosts, former Irish President Mary Robinson and comedian Maeve Higgins stem their inspiring conversations and interviews from the podcast’s tagline “Feminist Solutions to Man-Made Problems”. Each episode features innovative women who are making waves in the world of sustainability, from teenage activists to politicians leading environmental advocacy. The serious discussions balanced with light humour, make it an educational, funny and engaging listen.

Available here

7. Global Goalscast

Based on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, this podcast series aims to spur change and inspire listeners to take action, making progress towards achieving these global goals. Offering stories of innovation from voices large and small, this podcast carries a clear message of the need for greater collaboration and cooperation if these targets are to be achieved by 2030. By interviewing changemakers from a diverse range of backgrounds, the podcast succeeds in making the intimidating sustainable development goals more relatable to everyone. 

Available here