Herr Steiner, who was the head of the World's Largest Environmental Network now leads the United Nations Environment Programme, or UNEP.
Steiner, a German citizen, was director-general of the World Conservation Union (IUCN), which has more than 1,000 members, including 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,” according to an Annan spokesman. Steiner is expected to be elected to a four-year term by the U.N. General Assembly.
According to the UNEP website, the organization’s mission is “to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.”
Before becoming director-general of the World Conservation Union in 2001, Steiner served as head of the World Commission on Dams, chief technical advisor of a program for sustainable management of Mekong River watersheds, and as senior policy advisor of the Global Policy Unit at IUCN, where he developed partnerships between the environmental community, the World Bank, and the United Nations system.
Toepfer, who decided not to seek a third four-year term, took on the job as UNEP executive director in February 1998. During his eight years there, UNEP was restructured to focus on five priorities:
environmental assessment and early warning;
development of policy instruments;
enhanced coordination with environmental conventions;
and support to Africa.
Annan’s office also said that Toepfer, who previously served as Germany’s environmental minister, has been instrumental in integrating environmental concerns and economic development.
After the nomination was announced, Valli Moosa, president of the World Conservation Union issued this statement:
“On behalf of the Union , I congratulate Achim. He has led the organisation with remarkable vision and energy, and has helped rethink, reinvigorate and reposition the Union over the past five years, leaving it stronger than ever. It is significant that his exceptional talents are now put at the disposal of UNEP, which we have always considered as our sibling organisation in the fight for a greener and fairer planet. While we may lose an outstanding Director General, we will be gaining an excellent partner.”