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Week of March 11, 2013

Steiner to give Wege Lecture

Achim Steiner, the leader of environmental programming at the United Nations, will talk about the challenges facing the global environment movement when he delivers the 12th Annual Peter M. Wege Lecture on Sustainability today (March 11).

Steiner’s talk, titled “The Imperative of Change: Environmentalism in the 21st Century,” will take place at 5 p.m. in Rackham Auditorium.


The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) speaks on behalf of the environment within the United Nations system, advocating for and promoting the sustainable use of the planet’s natural assets.

Steiner’s visit will be his first North American address of the year. As executive director of UNEP and based in Kenya, he is a frequent speaker at international conferences on sustainable development and climate.

“I am very pleased to make my first visit to Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan, and to participate in such an important event,” he said. “The sustainability challenges facing the planet are vast but solvable, if we take meaningful action now. I hope my remarks at the Wege Lecture provide insight into both the science and the policies required to bring about much-needed change, including the transition to a green economy.”

Steiner, who also has the title of under-secretary-general, joined UNEP in 2006. He previously served as director general of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and as secretary general of the World Commission on Dams. He has worked at both the grassroots and highest levels of international policy-making to address the interface between environmental sustainability, social equity and economic development.

Steiner’s career has included assignments with governmental, non-governmental and international organizations in different parts of the world including India, Pakistan, Germany, Zimbabwe, United States, Vietnam, South Africa, Switzerland and Kenya. His educational background includes an undergraduate degree from the University of Oxford and a graduate degree from the University of London with specialization in development economics, regional planning, and international development and environmental policy.

The Wege Lecture series is one of U-M’s most visible annual events, and is free and open to the public and academic community. Past speakers have included His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, former Vice President Al Gore, Ford Motor Co. Chairman Bill Ford Jr., and John Holdren, President Obama’s science adviser.

Established in 2001, the series is named to honor Peter M. Wege, the retired vice-chairman of the board of Steelcase Inc., in Grand Rapids, Mich. A question-and-answer session follows, as does a public reception in the Rackham lobby.

The 2013 lecture is presented by the Center for Sustainable Systems and School of Natural Resources and Environment in collaboration with the following co-sponsors: College of Engineering, Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise, Graham Sustainability Institute, Institute for Social Research, Michigan Energy Institute, Office of the Provost, Office of the Vice President for Research, and School of Public Health.


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