Janez Potočnik

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Janez Potočnik
Janez Potočnik, Strasbourg - Diliff.jpg
European Commissioner for the Environment
In office
9 February 2010 – 1 November 2014
PresidentJosé Manuel Barroso
Preceded byStavros Dimas
Succeeded byKarmenu Vella (Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries)
European Commissioner for Science and Research
In office
22 November 2004 – 9 February 2010
PresidentJosé Manuel Barroso
Preceded byLouis Michel (Research)
Succeeded byMáire Geoghegan-Quinn (Research, Innovation and Science)
European Commissioner for Enlargement
In office
1 May 2004 – 21 November 2004
Served with Günter Verheugen
PresidentRomano Prodi
Preceded byGünter Verheugen
Succeeded byOlli Rehn
Personal details
Born (1958-03-22) 22 March 1958 (age 60)
Kropa, Yugoslavia (now Slovenia)
Political partyLiberal Democracy
Alma materUniversity of Ljubljana

Janez Potočnik (pronounced [ˈjaːnɛs pɔˈtɔtʃnik]; born 22 March 1958) is a Slovenian politician, he served as European Commissioner for Environment until 1 November 2014. He was formerly Slovenia's Minister for European Affairs. In November 2014, he became co-chair of the International Resource Panel (IRP)IRP, a forum of scientists and experts working on natural resources management.


Janez Potočnik was born on 22 March 1958 in Kropa, SR Slovenia. His father Stojan was innkeeper and his mother Lojzka was a school teacher. He has one sibling, a brother seven years older named Lojz. After finishing elementary school in Lipnica, Potočnik attended high school in Kranj, where he was also active in sports, notably in basketball and track and field. After high school he moved to Ljubljana, where he received a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Ljubljana in 1982.[1]

Early career[edit]

Potočnik served as assistant director (1984–1987) and director (1993–2001) at the Institute of Macroeconomic Analysis and Development in Ljubljana. In 1993, he received his PhD in economics from the University of Ljubljana. Between 1988 and 1993, he was a senior researcher at the Institute for Economic Research in Ljubljana.

Political career[edit]

Potočnik was Minister Councillor at the Slovenian Prime Minister's Cabinet from 2001 to 2002 and Minister for European Affairs from 2002 to 2004. He headed the negotiating team for the Accession of Slovenia to the EU between 1998 and 2004.

In 2004 Potočnik became European Commissioner, since November responsible for science and research. On 27 November 2009 he was nominated to serve as European Commissioner for the Environment in the Barroso Commission.

While commissioner, Potočnik stated that he believes trading knowledge and the development of an information society to create prosperity is as important to Europe as trading steel and coal to create peace was 50 years ago. He aimed to develop the European Research Area.[2]

Later career[edit]

Since 2014, Potočnik has been co-chairing – alongside Alicia Bárcena (2014-2017) and Izabella Teixeira (since 2017) – the International Resource Panel at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP);[3] he succeeded Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker in that position.[4]


In May 2016, he received the honorary doctorate degree in Economics and Business Administration from Finland Aalto University. In March 2009, he received the honorary doctorate degree from the University of Ghent (Belgium). In May 2008, he received the honorary doctorate in science from Imperial College London.


On 25 November 2015, the Green Budget Germanyhttps://www.cleanenergywire.org/experts/fos-green-budget-germany awarded him the Adam Smith Prize for Environmental Economic Policy for his courageous work as the former European Commissioner where he advanced the promotion of the idea of an ecological financial reform at European level. On October 31, 2015 the company Carlowitz awarded him the Hans-Carl-Von-Carlowitz Prize[1], for his work in Circular Economy in Europe. On September 15, 2015, the Institute of Circular Economy in Paris awarded him the Personality Trophy at the Circular Economy Competition for his remarkable work in favour of the transition to a circular economy. On 1 December 2014, the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) awarded him the Twelve Stars for the Environment Prize for his scientific approach to promoting environmental sustainability. In March 2014, the Catalan Association of Research Entities awarded him the ACER Award for his visionary contributions and leadership that made the ERC possible. In September 2013, he received the 2013 United Nations Champions of the Earth Award for his efforts to promote resource efficiency and reduce food waste in the European Union. In November 2011, Potočnik was awarded the Fray International Sustainability Award at Fray International Symposium in Cancun, Mexico, for his achievements in sustainable development.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Matos, Urša (7 March 2004). "Janez Potočnik". mladina.si. Mladina. Retrieved 13 February 2014.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 27 May 2012.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ UNEP Welcomes Alicia Bárcena Ibarra as New Co Chair of Expert Panel on Natural Resources United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), press release of 8 June 2016.
  4. ^ Dave Keating (November 11, 2014), Potočnik to chair UN resource efficiency panel European Voice.
  5. ^ "Hon. Janez Potočnik is awarded the Fray International Sustainability Award in Mexico". www.flogen.org. FLOGEN Star OUTREACH. Retrieved 19 February 2018.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Position established
Slovenian European Commissioner
Succeeded by
Violeta Bulc
Preceded by
Günter Verheugen
European Commissioner for Enlargement
Served alongside: Günter Verheugen
Succeeded by
Olli Rehn
Preceded by
Louis Michel
as European Commissioner for Research
European Commissioner for Science and Research
Succeeded by
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn
as European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science
Preceded by
Stavros Dimas
European Commissioner for the Environment
Succeeded by
Karmenu Vella
as European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries