Achim Steiner, former UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), has taken up his new position as Director of the Oxford Martin School.
Mr Steiner led UNEP from 2006 to 2016 from its global headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, and also served as Director General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi. Prior to his role at the UN, he was Director General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and he has also served as Secretary General of the World Commission on Dams and Chief Technical Advisor of the Mekong River Commission. He has worked both at grassroots level and at the highest levels of international policy-making, to address the interface between environmental sustainability, social equity and economic development.
Taking up his new role, Mr Steiner said he looked forward to further advancing the vision of the Oxford Martin School’s founder, James Martin, and building on the work of his predecessor, Professor Ian Goldin.
“The vision and ambition that brought James Martin and the University of Oxford together 10 years ago are increasingly relevant both to the world of research and to the world at large,” said Mr Steiner. “That vision was one in which the frontiers of knowledge, science and technology would become increasingly aligned with addressing the challenges that face us in the 21st century.
“I believe, as he did, that the wealth of academic expertise here in Oxford presents a unique opportunity to help with the needs and priorities that we face as societies and as a global community.
“The Oxford Martin School – embedded in one of the world’s leading academic and research institutions – is ideally placed to connect advances at the forefront of science and technology with people and institutions who can put them into practice, and secure impact on a global scale.”
Mr Steiner paid tribute to Professor Goldin, who led the school from its foundation in 2005, and will remain in Oxford as Professor of Globalisation and Development and as Senior Fellow at the Oxford Martin School.
“Professor Goldin’s pioneering leadership of the School has ensured that we have an excellent foundation to build upon as it enters its second decade,” said Mr Steiner. “He has been instrumental in making the School and its research not only a focal point of cutting edge research in Oxford, but also in communicating and connecting that research globally, ensuring that it reaches key decision makers in both politics and business.”
Mr Steiner, a Brazilian and German national, was appointed by a panel chaired by the University of Oxford’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Louise Richardson, and which included the University’s Heads of Division and external advisors Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Lord Martin Rees and Lord Nick Stern. He has also been appointed Professorial Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford.