Mr. Achim Steiner, Envoy of the Chair


Mr. Achim Steiner was appointed as Envoy of the Chair of the Platform on Disaster Displacement by the Federal Government of Germany on 13th of October 2016 in Geneva, Switzerland. He acts as the representative of the Chair in high-level public events, promoting the work and objectives of the Platform and providing advice to the Chair and the Steering Group of the Platform on the strategic priorities and on the Workplan’s strategic direction. He also serves as the Chair of the Advisory Committee of the Platform informing the Chair of the Steering Group of the outcomes of the Advisory Committee’s work.

The Platform on Disaster Displacement was established in 2016 to follow-up on the work started by the Nansen Initiative, and to implement the recommendations of the Nansen Initiative Protection Agenda, a toolbox to better prevent and prepare for displacement in the context of disasters and climate change and to respond to situations when people are forced to find refuge, within their own country or across the border. The Steering Group is directed by Germany as Chair and Bangladesh as Vice-Chair for the period July 2016 to December 2017. 

Mr. Achim Steiner also serves as Director of the Oxford Martin School since 1st of September 2016. Prior to joining the University of Oxford he served as United Nations Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (2006-2016).

During his tenure at the United Nations, Mr. Steiner helped to position UNEP as a central global player on issues such as climate change, technology innovation, ecosystems management and the role of markets and the private sector in sustainable development. He also led UNEP through a major reform and transformation process culminating in the UN General Assembly establishing a new UN Environment Assembly in 2014, to foster more effective global environmental cooperation and governance. As Executive Director he pioneered a number of new major initiatives linking economic and environmental transitions such as on the green economy, finance, energy, and resource management. Mr. Steiner also served as a member of the UN Secretary General’s Chief Executive Board and chaired the UN System’s High Level Committee on Programmes.

During his career, which he began as a development economist and which gradually led him into the broader arena of sustainable development, international relations and global diplomacy, Mr. Steiner has led a number of institutions as Chief Executive, including as Secretary General of the World Commission on Dams, Director General of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Director General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON). He has lived and worked in Oman, UK, India, Pakistan, Germany, Zimbabwe, USA, Vietnam, South Africa, Switzerland and Kenya.

He currently serves on a number of Boards and Councils – including as International Vice-Chair of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development, as Chair of the AGORA Verkehrswende Council, Germany, and as a member of the International Olympic Committee’s Sustainability and Legacy Commission.

Mr. Steiner was born in Brazil and holds both Brazilian and German nationality. He graduated in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (MA) at the University of Oxford, holds an MA from the University of London/School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), and completed his post-graduate studies at the German Development Institute as well as the Harvard Business School Executive Programme. He has been awarded a doctorate honoris causa by the International University in Geneva and is an Honorary Professor at Tongji University, Shanghai. His work and leadership have been recognised through numerous awards such as the Talberg Foundation’s Award for Principled Pragmatism, the Bruno H. Schubert Prize for Environmental Leadership, the Slovak Republic’s Gold Medal for Diplomatic Service, the Republic of Korea Order of Diplomatic Service Award and the German Sustainability Award. Mr. Steiner is an Officer of the Order of St Charles.

To learn more about Mr. Steiner’s perspective on disaster displacement and his role as Envoy, please read his Blog Post in our Perspectives section.