Nairobi, 9 February 1998 - Mr. Klaus Topfer, formally, took over the reins of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Office in Nairobi (UNON) here today. In his first speech to staff, Mr. Topfer, Executive Director of UNEP and Director General of UNON, called for hard work, and stressed the need for openness and team effort in enhancing the status of UNEP as the global voice for the environment.
After underscoring the fact that the last five years have been very difficult for the world environment, the new Executive Director went on to pay special tribute to the contribution of UNEP's former executive directors. He then spoke of the challenges ahead, and emphasized the organization's catalytic role and responsibility, in a time of increasing globalization, to ensure that "economic growth must be accompanied by environmental and social developments which in turn can make economic achievements sustainable."
Proclaiming that it will take "extraordinary, dedicated efforts to bring environmental issues back to the center of global political activity", Mr. Topfer said he has come to UNEP with an "open mind", and called for cooperation, and constructive criticism from all staff.
Mr. Topfer, who was a member of the German Cabinet for twelve years, including seven years as Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, (1987-1994), will also have the title of United Nations Under-Secretary General.
In his speech today, the new Under- Secretary General underscored his concern to strengthen the United Nations location in Nairobi. "The presence of the United Nations here in Nairobi underlines the importance of the African continent to the United Nations, and that is why I am very serious about strengthening this location," he said.
For more information, please contact:
Mr. Tore J. Brevik, Director, UNEP
Information and Public Affairs
Tel: +254-2-623292, Fax: +254-2623692,
Mr. Robert Bisset, UNEP Media and
Communications Officer, IPA
Tel: +254-2-623084, Fax: +254-2-623692,
UNEP News Release 1998/3