State Prize 2019 Awarded to Dr Klaus Töpfer by Prime Minister Armin Laschet

The State Chancellery announced that this year, the highest award of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), the State Prize, goes to Professor Dr Klaus Töpfer. He is a former Federal Environment Minister of Germany, long-time Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Under-Secretary-General of the UN and also the founding member of the CSCP.

Prime Minister of NRW, Armin Laschet will award the prize to the environmental politician and scientist on 16 September 2019 in Bonn. The award ceremony will be held by Federal Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel.

While congratulating Töpfer for his award, Laschet highlighted his commitment to sustainable development, global environmental protection and also his efforts to find holistic solutions to reduce poverty. Among his many achievements, the Prime Minister commended Töpfer for his influence on the ban of the CFC’s and the introduction of the circular economy, during his tenure as the Federal Minister for the Environment in Germany.

Executive Director of the CSCP, Michael Kuhndt congratulated Töpfer on receiving the state award while acknowledging his vision for founding the CSCP, a centre for the promotion of sustainable patterns of consumption and production (SCP). He said, “Dr Töpfer’s tireless work for the environment while in public service has been an inspiration in setting up the CSCP, where we continue to take his vision of collaborative action towards sustainable development and consumption forward. This is an award that recognises the many achievements and milestones of Dr Töpfer’s legacy.’’

Dr Klaus Töpfer took over the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety in Bonn in 1987 and was Germany’s second Federal Environment Minister until 1994. He then moved to the Federal Ministry for Regional Planning, Building and Urban Development. In 1998, the United Nations appointed him Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi and he was involved for many years at an international level in global environmental protection and sustainable development. From 1998 to 2006, Töpfer was also Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Director-General of the United Nations Office in Nairobi, and from 2001 to 2010 he was a member and then Vice-Chairman of the Council for Sustainable Development. During that time, in 2005, Töpfer along with Peter Hennicke from the Wuppertal Institute and Prof Dr Ernst Ulrich, co-president of the Club of Rome founded the CSCP. On the occasion of the CSCP’s 10th Anniversary Unconference, Töpfer said, ‘’It is absolutely necessary to change and to transform. And yes that needs concepts and thinking. Although we are quite successful in technology, there is a gap between implementing that in civil societies. Therefore it is very necessary to link thinking and acting closer together. We haven’t given up and I’m looking at this child of ten years with a lot of joy and happiness.’’

Since 2007, Töpfer has taught as Professor of Environment and Sustainable Development at Tongji University Shanghai. He is also a member of the Executive Committee of the German Society for the United Nations and the Board of Trustees of the German Foundation for World Population. Since May 2014 is the Chairman of the German section of the UN Network Sustainable Development Solutions Network. Currently, Töpfer is also working with experts in an informal working group for climate protection plans with CDU Party Leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.

We are proud to have the ambitions of Dr Klaus Töpfer as part of our foundation.