Acting on the nomination of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the UN General Assembly in 2006 unanimously elected Achim Steiner as the Executive Director of UNEP for a four-year term. He became the fifth Executive Director in UNEP's history. At its 83rd plenary meeting in 2010, the UN General Assembly, on the proposal of the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, re-elected Mr. Achim Steiner as Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme for another four-year term.
Before joining UNEP, Mr. Steiner served as Director General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) from 2001 to 2006, and prior to that as Secretary General of the World Commission on Dams. His professional career has included assignments with governmental, non-governmental and international organizations in different parts of the world including India, Pakistan, Germany, Zimbabwe, USA, Vietnam, South Africa, Switzerland and Kenya. He worked both at grassroots level as well as at the highest levels of international policy-making to address the interface between environmental sustainability, social equity and economic development.
Mr. Steiner, a German and Brazilian national, was born in Brazil in 1961. His educational background includes a BA from the University of Oxford as well as an MA from the University of London with specialization in development economics, regional planning, and international development and environment policy. He also studied at the German Development Institute in Berlin as well as the Harvard Business School.
Mr. Steiner also chairs two UN system wide entities:
- HLCP - High-level Committee on Programmes of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB); and
- EMG - United Nations Environment Management Group.
He serves on a number of international advisory boards, including the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED).
Mr. Steiner is the recipient of a number of international awards and prizes including:
- 2010 Leadership Award for Principled Pragmatism - Tällberg Foundation;
- Shark Guardian of the Year 2008 - Shark Project;
- Schubert Preis - 2008 Bruno H. Schubert Stiftung
- Steiger Award - Umwelt 2007
In 2009 His Serene Highness, Prince Albert of Monaco conferred upon Mr. Steiner the decoration of Officer of the Order of Saint Charles.