Maurice F. Strong
first worked with the United Nations as a junior
officer in 1947, when he was just eighteen, and returned in June 1972 to lead
the Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, Sweden. It was the
UN’s first major conference on international environmental issues and resulted
in the founding of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). Six months later
Mr. Strong was elected by the UN General Assembly to become UNEP’s first
Executive Director at its new headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, where until 1975
he played a critical role in globalizing the environmental movement.
Mr. Strong served on the board of directors for the United Nations Foundation,
a UN-affiliated organization established by Ted Turner’s historic $1 billion
donation. He is also a director of the World Economic Forum Foundation,
Chairman of the Earth Council, former Chairman of the Stockholm Environment
Institute, and former Chairman of the World Resources Institute
In his native Canada, Mr. Strong’s career has spanned over five decades at
some of Canada’s most prestigious companies. He has run several companies
in the energy and resources sector, including the Power Corporation of Canada,
Ontario Hydro, and Petro-Canada (the national oil company). He is currently
the chairman of Technology Development, Inc., which funds research in the
groundbreaking field of applying nanotechnology towards creating energy
sources that are both affordable and ecofriendly.
Mr. Strong’s deep interest in for China over the past 40 years has taken him to
the country in various capacities. He is currently an active honorary professor
at Peking University and Honorary Chairman of its Environmental Foundation
and Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Institute for Research on Security
and Sustainability for Northeast Asia.
Mostafa K.Tolba led Egypt’s delegation to the Stockholm Conference on the
Human Environment in 1972, hus starting a lifetime commitment to environmental
issues. Immediately after the meeting, he was nominated as Deputy Executive Director
of the newly established UN Environment Programme. Within two years, he
became its Executive Director — a post he held until retiring at the end of 1992.
Under his leadership, UNEP became the core organization within the UN family
which acted as the catalyst for spurring governments, businesses, academia,
and non-governmental organizations, to take meaningful action in protecting
Few if any in the global community would dispute the singular role played by Mr.
Tolba in the creation of the Montreal Protocol. For that reason, he has certainly
earned the moniker of “father of the Montreal Protocol”. His knowledge as a
scientist, his skills as a negotiator, and his techniques of persuasion enabled
him to bring people together to achieve what was thought to be unachievable
and which contributed to UNEP’s most widely acclaimed success — the
Montreal Protocol — the historic 1987 agreement to protect the ozone layer,
which is recognized as setting a precedent for international preventive rather
than corrective environmental action.
In 1994, he established in Egypt the International Center for Environment and Development
(ICED), a non-profit organization, which finances environmental projects in less developed
countries through an endowment fund administered by an independent board of trustees.
Elizabeth Dowdeswell has had an extensive career in
government, education and international affairs. From 1993 to 1998
she served as UNEP Executive Director where she was instrumental in
developing programmes in state-of-the-environmental assessments
and reporting, environmental law, and tackling new issues of trade
Before joining the United Nations, Ms. Dowdeswell was the Assistant
Deputy Minister of Environment Canada from 1989 to 1992, responsible
for the national weather and atmospheric agency. In that capacity she
played a leading role in global efforts to negotiate the treaty on climate change adopted at the
1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. She was also Canada’s
permanent representative to the World Meteorological Organization; a principal delegate to
the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; and the Canadian Chair of the Great Lakes
Water Quality Board.
More recently, Ms. Dowdeswell’s professional activities have included being a Visiting Professor
in Global Health, Genomics and Ethics at the Joint Centre for Bioethics in the University of
Toronto; Commissioner of the Commission on Globalization; and Associate Fellow of the
European Centre for Public Affairs.
Ms. Dowdeswell serves as a Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation mentor, helping to guide the
public policy research of Trudeau scholars, and is the author of numerous publications in both
popular press and professional journals.
Klaus Töpfer, who is widely recognized as having spearheaded
environmental policy as Minister of Environment in his home country,
Germany, became UNEP’s Executive Director and Director-General of the
United Nations Office in Nairobi, Kenya, in February 1998. During his eight
years as Executive Director, 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.
Among the milestones of his tenure are a number of important
environmental agreements, including the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety,
which addresses issue of genetically modified organisms, and the Stockholm
Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. Mr. Töpfer was also closely
involved in behind-the-scenes negotiations in support of the Kyoto Protocol
on climate change, which entered into force in February 2005.
Mr. Töpfer continues to stress his belief that environmental policy is the
peace policy of the future and that it is crucial that we create a culture of
cooperation and mutual respect between north and south, rich and poor in
order to avoid ever-growing tensions in a world where water and other vital
resources can no longer be taken for granted.
In 2009 Mr. Töpfer was appointed founding director of the Institute for
Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), Potsdam, Germany, which does
research on climate problems and sustainable economics. He is currently
a member of the Advisory Board of the German Foundation for World
Population and on the Advisory Board of the Holcim Foundation for