Achim Steiner (born 1961 in Brazil) is a German expert in environmental politics. From 2001 to 2006 he was Director General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). Since June 2006 he has been Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
Acting on the nomination of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the UN General Assembly unanimously elected Steiner as the Executive Director of UNEP on 16 March 2006 for a four-year term, effective 15 June 2006. In this office he succeeded Klaus Töpfer. He became the fifth Executive Director in UNEP's history. From 1 March 2009 to 15 March 2011, Steiner was also Director-General of the UN Offices at Nairobi (UNON).
At its 83rd plenary meeting, on 22 April 2010, the General Assembly, on the proposal of the Secretary-General, re-elected Steiner as Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme for another four-year term of office beginning on 15 June 2010 and ending on 14 June 2014.
Steiner also chairs the UN's Environmental Management Group (EMG) which UNEP hosts and funds. The EMG is chaired by the UNEP Executive Director and a special focus over the past few years has been on climate change and a lower carbon footprint. In 2007, the Secretary-General and the Chief Executives Board decided to move the UN system towards climate neutrality.
The EMG facilitated the first ever inventory of emissions for 49 agencies, funds and programmes. From 2010 onwards it will coordinate the move towards a common approach on emission reductions backed by strategies and targets for each UN institution.
Steiner grew up in Brazil. He was educated in England at Dover College and later studied philosophy, political science and economics at the University of Oxford. He received a Master of Arts degree in Economics and regional planning from the University of London, specializing in development economics, regional planning, and international development and environment policy. He also was a visiting scientist at German Development Institute in Berlin and at Harvard Business School. After leaving university, Steiner worked for several local environmental organisations before he worked for IUCN in Washington, D.C. and Asia. As a Senior Policy Adviser of the IUCN Global Policy Unit in Washington D.C., he spearheaded the development of new partnerships between the environmental community and the World Bank and United Nations system. In South-East Asia, he worked on a programme for sustainable management of Mekong River watersheds and community-based natural resources management. In 1998 he became Secretary-General of the World Commission on Dams (WCD) in Cape Town, South Africa. In that capacity, 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. In 2001 he returned to IUCN as Director-General, where he was responsible for managing and overseeing 1,000 staff stationed in 42 countries.
Steiner is well known for speaking on climate change and the green economy. UNEP is a leading proponent of the Green Economy Initiative (GEI) designed to assist governments in "greening" their economies by reshaping and refocusing policies and investments towards a range of sectors. These include clean technologies, renewable energies, water services, green transportation, waste management, green buildings and sustainable agriculture and forest management.
UNEP is also driving cutting-edge work in the field of natural capital. The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) study is an international initiative to draw attention to the global economic benefits of biodiversity and to highlight the growing costs of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation.
In December 2012, Steiner received the German Sustainability Award, an initiative by the German Sustainability Awards Foundation and the German Federal Government, in collaboration with the German Council for Sustainable Development, for his distinguished efforts to protect the global environment.
Steiner also serves on a number of advisory boards, including the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED) and the Environmental Advisory Council (ENVAC) of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
- This article incorporates information from the revision as of 1 June 2006 of the equivalent article on the German Wikipedia.