Klaus Töpfer to head UN Environment Programme

Former German environment minister set to move to UNEP at beginning of 1988

Former German environment minister Klaus Töpfer is to become head of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) from the start of 1998. Mr Töpfer, who is currently Germany's construction minister, was nominated for the job last week by UN secretary general Kofi Annan. Speaking at a press conference on Friday he publicly accepted the job, leaving formal ratification by the UN General Assembly the only hurdle still to be crossed. UNEP "is in extraordinarily bad shape...it is facing a financial crisis and difficulties in many specific areas of activity," Reuters reported Mr Töpfer as saying. "There is an urgent need for very intensive dialogue on the industrial countries, for the environmental problems are mainly to do with them and not the developing world." Mr Töpfer will replace Canadian Elisabeth Dowdeswell, who announced in February that she would not seek a second term as UNEP chief amidst criticism over poor management (ENDS Daily 6 February/a).

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