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New Un Ecology Chief Takes Office

New Un Ecology Chief Takes Office With Call To World To Team Up Together To Save Earth

The new head of the United Nations environmental agency assumed office today, taking a metaphor from the soccer field to call on all nations to team up together to score a goal for Planet Earth by putting ecology at the heart of economic policies and ending the rivalry between the two.

For too long economics and environment have seemed like players on rival teams,” said UN Environment Programme (<"http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=480&ArticleID=5295&l=en">UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner, whose home country, Germany, is currently hosting the World Football Cup.

“There have been a lot of nasty challenges and far too many own goals. We need to make these two sides of the development coin team players, players on the same side, he added.

Mr. Steiner, 45, former Director-General of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) which has over 1,000 members that include States, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in 140 countries, succeeds fellow-countryman Klaus Toepfer, who stepped down after two four-year terms.

The new UNEP chief has previously served as head of the World Commission on Dams, chief technical advisor of a programme for sustainable management of Mekong River watersheds, and Senior Policy Advisor of IUCN’s Global Policy Unit, where he developed partnerships between the environmental community, the World Bank and the UN system.

We then have a chance to achieve the fundamental shift of values and reach a new understanding of what really makes the world go round,” he said at today’s installation ceremony at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.

Until recently the goods and services provided by nature have been paid only lip service by traditional economic accounting. Thus the land, the air, the biodiversity and the world’s waters have been frequently treated as free and limitless, he added.

UNEP's mission statement mandates it to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.”

Noting that far too many of the enormous wealth of nature's services” are becoming limited as a result of abuse, poor management and over-exploitation, Mr. Steiner said one of his main challenges was to end this “antagonism between economic and environmental policy.

He stressed that he would be focusing on how markets and economic incentives and international treaties and agreements can be made to work in a way which is pro environment, pro poor and thus pro sustainable development.

Economic issues that touch on the environment are all too often pushed out of environmental conventions he declared. Meanwhile, environmental issues are generally left standing on the touch line, little more than spectators and rarely asked to play a real role in the great economic game. Everyone, not just those in the developing but also those in the developed world, stand to lose out if this continues.”


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