Mostafa Kamal Tolba

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Mostafa Kamal Tolba (Arabic: مصطفى كمال طلبة‎‎) (8 December 1922 – 28 March 2016) was an Egyptian scientist who served for seventeen years as the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).[1] Born in the town of Zifta (located in Gharbia Governorate), Tolba graduated from Cairo University in 1943 and obtained a PhD from Imperial College London five years later. He established his own school in microbiology at Cairo University's Faculty of Science and also taught at the University of Baghdad during the 1950s. In addition to his academic career Tolba worked in the Egyptian civil service.[2]

After serving briefly as President of the Egyptian Olympic Committee (1971–1972),[3] Tolba led Egypt's delegation to the landmark 1972 Stockholm Conference, which established the United Nations Environment Programme. Tolba became UNEP's Deputy Executive Director immediately after the conference, and two years later was promoted to Executive Director. During his long tenure (1975–1992), he played a central role in the fight against ozone depletion, which culminated with the Vienna Convention (1985) and the Montreal Protocol (1987).[2][4] He also was a significant influence in the creation and organization of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [5]

Tolba died on 28 March 2016 in Geneva at the age of 93.[6]


Tolba's publications include more than 95 papers on plant pathology, as well as over 600 statements and articles on the environment.[2]


  1. ^ The Environment Encyclopedia and Directory 2001 (3rd ed.). Europa Publications. 2001. p. 545. ISBN 1857430891. 
  2. ^ a b c "2005 Awards Profiles: Mostafa Kamal Tolba (Egypt)". The Vienna Convention Award For Outstanding Contributions to the Protection of the Ozone Layer. United Nations Environment Programme. Retrieved 2010-10-08. 
  3. ^ "Egyptian Olympic Committee Presidents 1910 until now" (PDF, 2.86 MB) (in Arabic). Egyptian Olympic Committee. Retrieved 2010-10-07. 
  4. ^ "Mostafa Tolba: Green giant: A creator of the successful regime to reduce global emissions has died". The Economist. 2 April 2016. Retrieved 2 April 2016. 
  5. ^ Bolin, Bert (2007). A History of the Science and Politics of Climate Change. The Role of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 
  6. ^ Weil, Martin (29 March 2016). "Mostafa K. Tolba, U.N. environmental official, dies at 93". Washington Post. Retrieved 1 April 2016. 

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Sporting positions
Preceded by
Muhammad Abu el-Ezz
President of the Egyptian Olympic Committee
Succeeded by
Abdel Moneim Wahbi Hussein
Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
Maurice Strong
Executive Director of UNEP
Succeeded by
Elizabeth Dowdeswell