Klaus Töpfer is a former Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and a former German environment minister.
Klaus Töpfer is widely recognized as having spearheaded environmental policy as Minister of Environment in Germany. He introduced ground-breaking environmental regulations including the law on the life-cycle economy and the “green dot” packaging recycling system.
He is Chairman of the Energy Efficiency in Buildings (EEB) Assurance Group, an initiative of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). The three-year EEB project is developing a roadmap to focus the global building industry on designing, financing, building and operating commercial and residential structures that are completely energy self-sufficient.
He was appointed founding director of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies e.V. (IASS Potsdam) in 2009, which researches the interplay between climate problems and sustainable economics. He currently sits on the Advisory Board for the German Foundation for World Population (DSW) and is strategic advisor to Desertec Industrial Initiative (Dii) which aims to create the framework for generating sustainable and climate-friendly power in the deserts of the Middle East and North Africa.
Klaus Töpfer studied economics at the Universities of Mainz, Frankfurt and Münster graduating in 1964. He completed his PhD in political science in 1968. He was a professor and directed the Institute of Regional Research and Development (1978-79) at the University of Hannover, Germany.
Klaus Töpfer then commenced his political career as a member of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). He was a member of the German federal government for more than ten years, serving as Minister of the Environment, Nature and Conservation and Nuclear Safety (1987-94) and Minister of Regional Planning, Building and Urban Development (1994-98).
He is the recipient of several honors including the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (1986) and the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. In 2002 he was awarded the Bruno H Schubert Environment Prize and the German Environment Prize.
Klaus Töpfer became Executive Director of UNEP and Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi (1998-2006). UNEP is the United Nations system’s designated entity for addressing environmental issues at the global and regional level. Its mandate is to coordinate the development of environmental policy consensus by keeping the global environment under review and bringing emerging issues to the attention of governments and the international community for action.
Klaus Töpfer was a member of the Board since the inception of the Advisory Board of the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction in 2004 until December 2013. He was also the keynote speaker at the Global Holcim Awards 2006 ceremony in Bangkok, Thailand.