Achim Steiner Chosen for Top United Nations Environment Job
NEW YORK, New York, March 17, 2006 (ENS) – Achim Steiner, the head of the world’s largest environmental network, was elected by the United Nations General Assembly Thursday to be the next executive director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
Steiner is the director-general of the World Conservation Union (IUCN), which has over 1,000 members that include states, government agencies, and nongovernmental organizations in 140 countries.
A German national who was recommended to the General Assembly by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Steiner is expected to begin his four-year term on June 15.
He comes to the position following the two-term tenure of Klaus Toepfer, a former German environment minister, who decided not to seek a third term.
"He has worked both at grassroots level and at the highest levels of international policymaking to address the connections between environmental sustainability, social equity, and economic development," a UN spokesman said Wednesday in announcing Steiner’s nomination by the secretary-general.
Extending "warm" congratulations to his successor, Toepfer said he is "an outstanding individual among a field of outstanding candidates."
"I am delighted that Achim Steiner has accepted this important international post at an organization that has a key role in delivering sustainable development, fighting poverty, realizing social justice and achieving stability in the 21st century," Toepfer said.
"I am convinced that choosing Achim Steiner will prove to be a great decision bringing youth, dynamism, intellect and a deeply held commitment to environment and sustainable development issues," said Toepfer. "In addition, his breadth of experience with intergovernmental organizations and negotiations, civil society, scientists and private business will build on UNEP’s evolving networks with and beyond governments."
In a statement Thursday, the IUCN welcomed Steiner's selection for the UN's top environmental position.
"On behalf of the Union, I congratulate Achim. He has led the organization with remarkable vision and energy, and has helped rethink, reinvigorate and reposition the Union over the past five years, leaving it stronger than ever," said IUCN president Valli Moosa, a former South African environment minister.
"It is significant that his exceptional talents are now put at the disposal of UNEP, which we have always considered as our sibling organization in the fight for a greener and fairer planet," said Moosa. "While we may lose an outstanding Director General, we will be gaining an excellent partner."
In 1961, Steiner was born in Brazil, where he lived for 10 years. His educational background includes a BA from the University of Oxford as well as an MA from the University of London with specialization in development economics, regional planning, and international development and environment policy. He also studied at the German Development Institute in Berlin as well as the Harvard Business School.
Steiner serves on a number of international advisory boards including the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development and the Environmental Advisory Council of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Based in Nairobi, Kenya, the UN Environment Programme oversees many environmental partnerships and initiatives including - treaties on climate change, biological diversity, endangered species, chemicals, and the ozone layer, as well as programs to preserve the world's great apes, conserve mountainous regions, and assess environmental damage left after conflicts.