Annan nominates head of conservation network as UN environment agency chief

Achim Steiner

15 March 2006 – Achim Steiner, the head of the world’s largest environmental network, was today nominated by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to be the next Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), succeeding Klaus Toepfer on 15 June.

Mr. Steiner, a German national who is expected to be elected to a four-year term by the General Assembly, is the Director-General of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) which has over 1,000 members that include States, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in 140 countries.

“He has worked both at grassroots level and at the highest levels of international policy-making to address the connections between environmental sustainability, social equity, and economic development,” a spokesman for Mr. Annan said.

Prior to his assumption of the directorship of the Conservation Union in 2001, Mr. Steiner served as head of the World Commission on Dams, the chief technical advisor of a programme for sustainable management of Mekong River watersheds and as Senior Policy Advisor of IUCN’s Global Policy Unit, where he developed partnerships between the environmental community, the World Bank and the UN system.

Mr. Toepfer, who has decided not to seek a third four-year term, began work as UNEP chief in February 1998. During his tenure, the Programme was restructured into five priority areas: environmental assessment and early warning, development of policy instruments, enhanced coordination with environmental conventions, technology transfer and support to Africa.

Mr. Annan’s office said that Mr. Toepfer, who had previously been Germany’s environmental minister, has also been instrumental in integrating environmental concerns and economic development.

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