Acting on the nomination of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the UN General Assembly unanimously elected Achim Steiner as the Executive Director of UNEP on 16 March 2006 for a four-year term, effective 15 June 2006. He becomes the fifth Executive Director in UNEP's history. Effective 1 March 2009, Achim was also appointed Director-General of the UN Offices at Nairobi (UNON).
Before joining UNEP, Achim served as Director General of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) from 2001 to 2006. IUCN is widely regarded as one of the most influential and highly respected organizations in the field of conservation, environment and natural resources management. He held responsibility for the management and oversight of 1,000 staff located in 42 countries.
His professional track record in the fields of sustainable development policy and environmental management, his first-hand knowledge of civil society, governmental and international organizations, as well as his global experience spanning five continents, make him an excellent choice to lead the United Nations Environment Programme.
His professional career has included assignments with governmental, non-governmental and international organizations in different parts of the world. In Washington, where he was Senior Policy Advisor of IUCN's Global Policy Unit, he led the development of new partnerships between the environment community, the World Bank and the United Nations system. In Southeast Asia he worked as Chief Technical Advisor on a programme for the sustainable management of Mekong River watersheds and community-based natural resources management. In 1998 he was appointed Secretary-General of the World Commission on Dams, based in South Africa, where he managed a global programme of work to bring together the public sector, civil society and the private sector in a global policy process on dams and development.