Nigel Roome obituary

Other lives: Leading adviser to both government and business on sustainability issues

Nigel Roome, who has died of septic shock while undergoing treatment for acute myeloid leukaemia aged 62, was a leading adviser to both government and business on sustainability issues.

Born in Epsom, Surrey, the youngest son of Clifford, a wine merchant, and his wife, Margaret (nee Males), a retail assistant, Nigel was educated at Northgate grammar school, Ipswich, and studied chemistry with economics at Surrey University. He then gained a PhD with a cost-benefit analysis of nature reserves from St Edmund’s College, Cambridge. His doctoral studies sparked a lifelong commitment to unravelling complex global problems and conceiving ways in which our relationship with the planet could be improved.

After lecturing at the University of Bradford and Manchester Business School on environmental management and corporate responsibility, in 1993 Nigel took his wife, Alison, whom he had married in 1975, and three young children to Toronto, Canada, where his fourth child was born.

There he continued to shape international business and educational leaders’ thinking and action on sustainable development at the Schulich School of Business at York University, Toronto, as the inaugural chair and director of the Erivan K Haub program in business and the environment. During his time at Schulich, Nigel advised the Canadian commissioner of the environment and sustainable development.

In 1996 Nigel became the chair in environmental management at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. Subsequently he was professor of sustainable enterprise and transformation at Erasmus University, Rotterdam, the Daniel Janssen chair of corporate social responsibility at the Solvay School of Economics and Management, Brussels, and associate dean of the MBA programmes at TiasNimbas business school.

Nigel was appointed professor of governance, corporate responsibility and sustainable development at Vlerick business school in 2010 and was well known for nurturing the critical thinking skills of students, firm in the belief that this was essential to solving the complex issues of sustainability. He was also adviser to European commission expert groups from 2000 until his semi-retirement in 2014, and the academic director of the Academy of Business in Society, from 2001.

He touched the lives of many, not least the countless students that passed through his lecture rooms since the 1970s, of whom I was one. Known for his humour, honesty and remarkable intellect, he was a passionate man who loved to renovate old properties and collect art deco furniture.

His marriage to Alison ended in divorce in 2005, though they became close friends again in recent years.

Nigel is survived by his children, Duncan, Sophie, Vicki and Simon.

Sarah Clarke

The GuardianTramp

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