Leaders in Sustainability #5 – Achim Steiner

The environmental movement is one that is categorized by its diverse and multifaceted efforts. While positive in that it targets problems from a variety of different angles and mediums, its multilayered aspects can sometimes make the movement seem overwhelming and abstract. However, one way to help demystify its broad landscape is to clarify who the leaders of sustainability are and what the different spheres they work within are. Below is the fifth leader who is steering the push for sustainable change:

Achim Steiner

Who he is:

  • Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program
  • Respected for “his openness and honesty about the challenges we face and not falling into the trap of pretending we are further down the road than we really are.”

What he has done for sustainability:

  • Secretary General of the World Commission on Dams
  • Director General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) from 2001 to 2006,
  • International Vice Chair of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED).
  • Tallberg Foundation’s Award for Principled Pragmatism and the Steiger Award for “commitment and important work in the protection of the planet”.
  • Latest project: UNEP is working with financial sectors to promote investments in green energy and sustainability. More specifically, the UNEP Financial initiative is financing renewable energy installations globally, such as placing wind farms and geothermal technologies in place like Kenya and South Africa. The Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System was also launched to study relationships and intersections between the financial sector and green efforts.

His Words:

  • “In the end, it is ‘public sentiment’ that is actually driving the agenda. The collective impact of activism, be it trade unions or environmental and consumer groups or indigenous peoples and human rights activists, is registering on the Richter scale of political and corporate leaders. And that is good news – even if the annual gathering in Davos is but one moment in the long, too long, journey of changing course.”

Written by Julie Elliot, Class of 2015




 Photo by: United Nations’ Achim Steiner talks with SNRE students in the morning

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