UNEP Executive Director Reelected by UN General Assembly on Earth Day
April 23, 2010  //  By:   //  Blog Post  //  3 Comments

Achim Steiner, elected to the post of Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) by the UN General Assembly in 2006, was re-elected for another 4-year term on Earth Day, April 22. Executive Director Steiner is the fifth Executive Director since UNEP’s creation in 1972 following Maurice Strong, Mostafa Tolba, Elizabeth Dowdeswell, and Klaus Toepfer. Steiner also serves as the Director-General of the UN Office in Nairobi (UNON).

Throughout his professional career, Achim Steiner has gained experience in civil society, governmental, and international organizations across five continents in the fields of sustainable development and environmental policy. Prior to joining UNEP, Achim Steiner was the Director General of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) from 2001 to 2006. In 1998, he was appointed Secretary-General of the World Commission on Dams in South Africa, where he managed a global programme of work bringing together the public sector, business, and civil society in a global policy process on dams and development.

A German national, Achim Steiner was born in Brazil in 1961. He received a BA from the University of Oxford and an MA from the University of London with specialization in development economics, regional planning, and international development and environment policy. He has also studied at the German Development Institute in Berlin and at Harvard Business School.

In the summer of 2009, Executive Director Steiner was a participant in the GEG Project Forum in Glion, Switzerland. Read the press release for the reappointment proposal of Executive Director Steiner, here.

About the Author :

Maria Ivanova is the Director of the Global Environmental Governance Project and Associate Professor at the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at the University of Massachusetts in Boston.

3 Comments to “UNEP Executive Director Reelected by UN General Assembly on Earth Day”
  • Steven Earl Salmony
    April 27, 2010 -

    After more than ten years of trying to raise awareness about certain overlooked research, my focus remains riveted on the skyrocketing growth of absolute global human population and scientific evidence from Hopfenberg and Pimentel that the size of the human population on Earth is a function of food availability. More food for human consumption equals more people; less food for human existence equals less people; and no food, no people. This is to say, the population dynamics of the human species is essentially common to, not different from, the population dynamics of other living things.

    UN Secretary-General Mr. Kofi Annan noted in 1997, “The world has enough food. What it lacks is the political will to ensure that all people have access to this bounty, that all people enjoy food security.”

    Please examine the probability that humans are producing too much, not too little food; that the global predicament humanity faces is the way increasing the global food supply leads to increasing absolute global human population numbers. It is the super-abundance of unsustainble agribusiness harvests that are driving population numbers of the human species to overshoot, or explode beyond, the natural limitations imposed by a relatively small, evidently finite, noticeably planet with the size, composition and ecology of Earth.

    The spectacular success of the Green Revolution over the past 40 years has “produced” an unintended and completely unanticipated global challenge, I suppose: the rapidly increasing supply of food for human consumption has given birth to a human population bomb, which is exploding worldwide before our eyes. The most formidable threat to future human wellbeing and environmental health appears to be caused by the unbridled, corporate overproduction of food on the one hand and the abject failure of the leaders of the human community to insist upon more fair and equitable redistribution of the world’s food supply so that “all people enjoy food security”.

    We need to share (not overconsume and hoard) as well as to build sustainable, human-scale farming practices (not corporate leviathans), I believe.

    For a moment let us reflect upon words from the speech that Norman Bourlaug delivered in 1970 on the occasion of winning the Nobel Prize. He reported, ” Man also has acquired the means to reduce the rate of human reproduction effectively and humanely. He is using his powers for increasing the rate and amount of food production. But he is not yet using adequately his potential for decreasing the rate of human reproduction. The result is that the rate of population increase exceeds the rate of increase in food production in some areas.” Plainly, Norman Bourlaug states that humanity has the means to decrease the rate of human reproduction but is choosing not to adequately employ this capability to sensibly limit human population numbers. He also notes that the rate of human population growth surpasses the rate of increase in food production IN SOME AREAS {my caps}. Dr. Bourlaug is specifically not saying the growth of global human population numbers exceeds global production of food. According to recent research, population numbers of the human species could be a function of the global growth of the food supply for human consumption. This would mean that the global food supply is the independent variable and absolute global human population numbers is the dependent variable; that human population dynamics is most similar to the population dynamics of other species. Perhaps the human species is not being threatened in our time by a lack of food. To the contrary, humanity and life as we know it could be inadvertently put at risk by the determination to continue the dramatic, large-scale overproduction of food, such as we have seen occur in the past 40 years.

    Recall Dr. Bourlaug’s prize winning accomplishment. It gave rise to the “Green Revolution” and to the extraordinary increases in the world’s supply of food. Please consider that the sensational increases in humanity’s food supply occasioned by Dr. Bourlaug’s great work gave rise to an unintended and completely unanticipated effect: the recent skyrocketing growth of absolute global human population numbers. We have to examine what appear to be potentially disastrous effects of increasing, large-scale food production capabiliities (as opposed to small-scale farming practices) on human population numbers worldwide between now and 2050. If we keep doing the “big-business as usual” things we are doing now by maximally increasing the world’s food supply, and the human community keeps getting what we are getting now, then a colossal ecological wreckage of some unimaginable sort could be expected to occur in the future.

    It may be neither necessary nor sustainable to continue increasing food production to feed a growing population. As an alternative, we could carefully review ways for limiting increases in the large-scale corporate production of food; for providing broad support of small-scale farming practices; for redistributing more equitably the present overly abundant world supply of food among the members of the human community; and for immediately, universally and safely following Dr. Bourlaug’s recommendation to “reduce the rate of human reproduction effectively and humanely.”

  • Glenna Pazan
    December 28, 2010 -

    Good!Your blog is unique, the website is good information I am sincerely admiring your capability to respond in a short time with such constructive advices. I have been looking for this for quite a while. Keep me informed if you submit any more.

  • Maria Ivanova
    December 29, 2010 -

    Thank you very much! Please join our linked-in group for more “real-time” discussions – http://www.linkedin.com/groups?about=&gid=3072650&trk=anet_ug_grppro

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