UNEP Executive Directors

Maurice F. Strong has played a unique and critical role in globalizing the environmental movement. In June 1972 he was asked to lead the Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, Sweden. It was an historic event, marking the UN's first major conference on international environmental issues and resulted in the founding of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
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Mostafa Kamal Tolba led Egypt's delegation to the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment in 1972, which launched a lifetime of commitment to environmental issues. After Stockholm he was nominated as Deputy Executive Director of the newly established UN Environment Programme (UNEP). Within two years, he became the Executive Director - a post he held until retiring at the end of 1992.
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Elizabeth Dowdeswell has had an extensive career in government, education and international affairs. From 1993 to 1998 she served as the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme where she led the agency’s involvement in implementing sustainable development throughout the entire UN system.
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Klaus Töpfer, who is widely recognized as having spearheaded environmental policy as Minister of Environment in his home country, Germany, became Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in February 1998. Mr. Töpfer presided over a period in UNEP's history that has seen environmental sustainability become front page news and central to international development goals.
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Acting on the nomination of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the UN General Assembly in 2006 unanimously elected Achim Steiner as the Executive Director of UNEP for a four-year term. He became the fifth Executive Director in UNEP's history. At its 83rd plenary meeting in 2010, the UN General Assembly, on the proposal of the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, re-elected Mr. Achim Steiner as Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme for another four-year term.
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