Spearheading environmental policy

Klaus Toepfer, who was born in Waldenburg, Silesia, is widely recognized as having spearheaded environmental policy as minister of the environment in his home country, Germany. He introduced groundbreaking environmental regulations and laws, such as the one on the life-cycle economy and the packaging recycling system «Green dot.» He also initiated several laws banning the use of environmentally harmful substances, such as sulfer dioxide and ozone-depleting chemicals. He actively contributed to the success of the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and was a forerunner in the negotiations for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the establishment of the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Since he was appointed executive director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), he has restructured the organization under five priority areas (environmental assessment and early warning, development of policy instruments, enhanced coordination with environmental conventions, technology transfer and industry, support for Africa).