March 15, 2006

German named to head UN environment agency

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Secretary-General Kofi Annan
chose a German conservationist to head the U.N. Environment
Program for a four-year term, a U.N. spokesman announced on

Achim Steiner, now director-general of the World
Conservation Union, will replace another German, Klaus Toepfer,
as head of UNEP, based in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

Steiner, 44, is expected to assume his post on June 15
after ratification by the U.N. General Assembly, U.N. spokesman
Stephane Dujarric said.

UNEP was established in 1972 to guide environmental
activities at the United Nations, especially among developing
nations, through its scientific advisory groups.

Its widely recognized activity is Earthwatch, an
international monitoring system designed to facilitate the
exchange of information on significant environmental risks
among governments.

The World Conservation Union that Steiner heads is the
world's largest environmental network with over 1,000 members
in 140 countries, including governments and advocacy groups.

Dujarric said Steiner had "worked both at the grass-roots
level and at the highest levels of international policy-making
to address the connections between environmental
sustainability, social equity, and economic development."

Steiner was born in Brazil and received degrees from Oxford
University and the University of London and studied at the
German Development Institute in Berlin as well as Harvard
Business School.