Rt Hon Simon Upton is Director of the Environment Directorate at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD).
The OECD Environment Directorate is responsible for Environmental Performance Reviews of Member Countries and provides governments with the analytical basis to develop policies that are effective and economically efficient, including through country performance reviews, data collection, policy analysis, projections and modeling, and the development of common approaches. The team he leads recently released the Environmental Outlook to 2050 – a model-based analysis of the environmental consequences of business-as-usual growth at the global level. The Directorate is now working to develop a better understanding of the economic costs of environmental damage and the benefits of taking pre-emptive action to limit that damage.
He was previously Chairman of the OECD Round Table on Sustainable Development, a body that enables environment and economics ministers, representatives of the OECD, World Bank, United Nations programs, World Trade Organization and individuals invited from business and civil society organizations to meet twice a year to tackle some of the more intractable problems that defy negotiated solutions.
Simon Upton became a prominent figure in international environmental negotiations, chairing the 1998 meeting of OECD environment ministers, and the 7th Session of the Commission of Sustainable Development in 1998-99. He is a consultant and company director in his native New Zealand and was a member of the Board of Directors of Holcim New Zealand from November 2007 until March 2010.
He is a Rhodes Scholar with degrees in English literature, music and law from the University of Auckland and a Master of Letters (MLitt) in political philosophy from the University of Oxford.
In 1981at the age of 23, he was elected to Parliament in New Zealand, and became one of the country’s youngest Cabinet Ministers in 1990. He held a wide variety of portfolios including Environment, Biosecurity, Science and Technology, and Health and State Services. He was elected to the Privy Council in 2000 and retired from politics in 2001. Simon Upton is a Visiting Fellow at the University of Otago, in Dunedin, New Zealand, and is also a board member of the International Research Institute for Climate Prediction at Columbia University, New York.
Simon Upton presented a keynote address “The sustainability agenda – an international policy perspective” at the inaugural Holcim Forum 2004 in Zurich. He has been a member the Board of the LafargeHolcim Foundation since the inception of the then Advisory Board of the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction in 2004.