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Biography - Peter Wilson

Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society

International Member of The Explorers Club, NY

Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers

Helicopter Pilot

BSc (Hons), MSc, CEng, CPL(H), FI(H)


I was born the son of a Geologist in 1957.  I grew up in Zimbabwe.  I was able to rub shoulders with geologists, physicists and palaeontologists by carrying my father’s bags on geology field trips.  Geology was physical work on the ground informed by drill samples.  There was no access to satellite measurements and computer models back then.  This seeded my passion for earth sciences, which has been fed by a lifelong subscription to National Geographic.  The world population was about 3B people in 1960.


I graduated in 1982 and worked as a Mechanical Engineer in Scotland.  I founded The Change Works in 1992, co-founded The Health Works in 2004 and sold the combined businesses to GE Healthcare in 2014.  I have a track record of designing and implementing programmes of transformational change in many business sectors.  Through my business and personal life, I have always been a traveller, meeting people to engineer better solutions.  This seeded my passion for human geography and human migration.  The world population was now about 7B.


I learnt to fly a small helicopter and I have been a helicopter instructor for about 16 years.  I progressed to making longer journeys.  I flew around the UK and Ireland.  I flew over to Paris to complete the heli-lanes.  I joined six other helicopters to fly to Moscow.  We became the first private pilots without Russian speakers on board and unescorted to achieve this.  We were warmly welcomed in Russia by Michael Farikh, round the world pilot and twice to the North Pole.  It felt exciting to be joining the “Aviation Nation, Helicopter Tribe, Long Range Section”, to quote Michael.  The experience seeded my desire for more long range flying.


I started researching my particular interests of sustainable development, climate change and poverty and using my engineering background to understand the available science.  I recognise three game changers:

1  Ending Extreme Poverty to stabilise population growth

ONLY by raising the living standards of the poorest, in an environmentally friendly way, will population growth stop at about 9B people in 2050.  Hans Rosling


2  Respecting Absolute Planetary Boundaries of the Biosphere

ONLY by respecting absolute planetary boundaries will the biosphere still support humanity beyond 2050.  Johan Rockström


3  Accounting for Nature and People to make profit

ONLY with economic development serving society, which operates within a stable biosphere, will humanity enjoy sustainable growth.  Pavan Sukdev, The Economics of Ecosystems & Biodiversity, and Kate Raworth, Doughnut Economics


I decided to do something epic to raise the profile of the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development.


My objective is to have an adventure by helicopter with a purpose.

I now devote my energy to sustainable development projects using my engineering background to provide solutions to a changing world.  Reaching Sustainable Development will need to change life styles, which will be a social, technological and political journey to the mid-century, 2050.

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