Winds of Change with Announcement of Strengthened Top Team

Senior Appointments Across Spectrum of Science, Industry, Policy Implementation and Management Set Stage for More Delivery Orientated Organization

Nairobi, 19 January 2007 - A strengthened management team is ushering in the New Year at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) with the filling of several key posts at the top of the Nairobi-headquartered organization.

The senior positions involve new directors at the divisions of Technology, Industry and Economics; Early Warning and Assessment, Environmental Policy Implementation; and the Environmental Management Group Secretariat.

The other senior appointees are Chief of UNEP’s New York liaison office; Chief of the Executive Office or ‘Chef de Cabinet’ and the post of Special Advisor on Policy and Operational Matters, also within the Executive Office.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said: “Following a competitive and exhaustive recruitment search, I am delighted to publicly announce the new members of the UNEP senior management team”.

“The management skills, experience, knowledge and intellectual rigor of each one of the new appointments will bring enhanced capacity, vision and action to UNEP in order to fulfill its mandate and meet the big challenges facing the environment and sustainable development in the early 21st century,” he added.

“Recruiting these senior managers has been one of the main goals of my first six months as UNEP Executive Director. There were many other worthy candidates, but I am convinced that we have selected the right mix of talents necessary for a strengthened, forward-looking, reform focused UNEP,” said Mr Steiner.

The full suite of senior recruitments will be completed with the appointment of Director of the UNEP/Global Environment Facility Division. The search for a suitable candidate is underway.

Mr Steiner said the new look team also reflected continuity with the directors of the divisions of Environmental Law and Conventions; Communications and Public Information and Regional Cooperation, unchanged.

These are currently headed by Bakary Kante, a Senegalese national: Eric Falt, a French national and Cristina Boelcke, an Argentinean national.

The New Appointees in Full

Sylvie Lemmet has been appointed Director of the UNEP Division of Technology, Industry and Economics (DTIE), based in Paris.

Ms. Lemmet holds Master’s Degrees in Public Administration from Harvard University and from the Ecole Nationale d’Administration. She brings to UNEP a wealth of managerial and technical expertise, spanning many years working with the private sector, NGOs, and with international organizations, including Médecins Sans Frontièrs and The World Bank.

More recently, she was Senior Auditor with the French Cour des Comptes, where she played an active role in the reform process of the public sector in France and participated as a member of Cour de Comptes’ audit team of the UN. Ms Lemmet is a French national.

Peter Gilruth has been appointed Director, Division of Early Warning and Assessment (DEWA). Mr. Gilruth holds a Master’s Degree in Environmental Management and a PhD in Forestry and Forest Product Techniques.

He brings to UNEP more than 20 years experience as an environmental scientist, project manager and strategist with the US Government, academia, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and, currently, the private sector where he collaborated closely with the US space agency NASA.

As a scientist, Mr. Gilruth has gained international recognition and respect, particularly in the field of environmental assessment. His career has been characterized by successes in applying environmental science, assessment and information to promoting and developing environmental policies at all levels. Mr Gilruth is an American national.

Ibrahim Thiaw has been appointed Director, Division of Environmental Policy Implementation (DEPI). Mr. Thiaw holds an advanced university degree in Forestry and Forest Product Techniques as well as management training at the Harvard Business School, and brings to UNEP more than 22 years of expertise in the fields of natural resource management and environmental policy.

Since his early career with the Ministry of Rural Development of Mauritania, Mr. Thiaw has successfully developed and implemented large-scale environmental programmes and projects in Africa and has worked closely with regional organizations and global programmes.

As IUCN Regional Director for West Africa, Mr. Thiaw has been instrumental in developing key environmental initiatives in Africa. His strong leadership abilities, decision-making skills and extensive experience was one of the reasons why the IUCN Governing Council asked him in 2006 to take up the position of Acting Director-General of IUCN—a position involving relationships at the highest level with heads of state, governments and parliamentarians. Mr Thiaw is a Mauritanian national.

Janos Pasztor has been appointed Director, Secretariat of the Environmental Management Group (EMG). Mr. Pasztor holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s Degree in Nuclear Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Throughout his career, Mr. Pasztor has participated in high-level environmental negotiations. He began his professional career in the field of environment in 1979 and worked for more than 10 years with NGOs, academia and UNEP before joining the secretariat of the UN Conference on Environment and Development in 1990.

Since 1993, Mr. Pasztor has held senior positions with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Mr Pasztor is a Hungarian national.

Juanita Castaño has been appointed Chief of the UNEP New York liaison office. Ms Castaño holds degrees in social sciences and postgraduate qualifications including the Executive Development Programme of the Harvard Business School in the field of public administration.

Ms Castaño brings strong international relations and diplomatic skills having been the Plenipotentiary and Extraordinary Minister in the Permanent Mission of Colombia to the UN in New York from 1989 to 1993. Her many roles and responsibilities at that time included being head of the G77 during negotiations to restructure the Global Environment Facility. Ms Castaño later served in posts including as an advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Colombia, where she was in charge of restructuring the ministry, rising to Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for that government in 2001. In 2004, Ms Castaño was appointed as a member of the UN Secretary-General’s advisory board on water and sanitation

Ms Castaño also brings down to earth experience in fields from environment and sustainable development to gender and water-related issues. Her most recent post has been with GTZ - the German Cooperation and Development organization, where she was responsible for activities including planning and implementation of watershed related projects in Colombia. Ms Castaño is a Colombian national.

Paul Akiwumi has been appointed Chief of the Executive Office. He takes over from Amedeo Buonajuti who retires this year after long and distinguished service under four UNEP Executive Directors.

Mr Akiwumi holds a Masters Degree in Science and Biological Oceanography from the University of Southampton. He began his professional career at UNEP in 1984 as a consultant working on oceans and coastal areas before serving as a programme officer in various parts of the organization including as acting Technical Secretary of the Ecosystem Conservation Group and as UNEP’s focal point for the Global Environment Facility’s International Waters project. From 1998 to 2003, Mr Akiwumi served as Programme Policy Advisor to the UNEP Deputy Executive Director.

Mr Akiwumi also brings considerable experience in administration, management, UN protocol and financial matters as well as an intimate knowledge of UNEP’s programme of work. In 2003, he was appointed Chief of the Office of the Director General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON) where his many achievements have included establishment of the UNON Senior Management Group and the overseeing and organizing of the UN Security Council meeting in Nairobi. Mr Akiwumi is a Ghanaian national.

John Scanlon has been appointed as Special Advisor on Policy and Operational Matters in the Executive Office. He holds a Master Degree in Environmental Law from the University of Adelaide. Mr Scanlon brings a range of experience in leading and managing organizational change and strategic thinking from within government, the private sector and civil society both at the national and international level.

He began his professional career in 1984 as a barrister and solicitor specializing in environment, local government and planning law. In 1994 he became Chief of Staff and principal policy advisor to the Minister for Environment and Natural Resources in the Government of South Australia.

Mr Scanlon has held several positions since including Chief Executive, Department for Environment, Heritage and Aboriginal Affairs in the Government of South Australia and Director of the IUCN Environmental Law Centre in Bonn, Germany.

He has worked in over 25 countries including Botswana, Guyana, the Russian Federation and Vietnam. Latterly he has been Chair of the Environment Protection Authority, Government of New South Wales and was in 2005 also appointed Australia’s first independent Commissioner under the Murray Darling Basin Agreement. Mr Scanlon is an Australian national.

For more information please contact Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson, on Tel: +254 20 7623084, Mobile: +254 733 632755, E-mail:

UNEP News Release 2007/01


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