Gerald Leach worked with the Stockholm Environment Institute from its inception in 1989 until he passed away in 2005. He began his career as a journalist, writing for the Manchester Guardian (now The Guardian) and then the Observer as a science correspondent. He later worked as a fellow at the International Institute for Environment and Development, where he produced an influential analysis of household energy use that showed how the UK could reduce its energy use while maintaining its economic performance. He later worked for the Beijer Institute, focusing on renewable energy, biomass, and sustainable development. His concern for the needs of the poor and the imperative to alleviate poverty guided his work.
Conventional development wisdom generally assumes the long-term continuity of dominant institutions, along with the expansion of resource-intensive consumption and production patterns in industrialized countries and their gradual extension to developing countries. However, the growth orientation of conventional development strategies and the resource-intensive lifestyles produce risks and unacceptable deterioration of the biosphere, as well as social and economic instability. The limitations of the conventional development paradigm suggest the beginnings of an outline for a strategic agenda for sustainability.