Environmental leaders from Northern Europe, Central America and South Asia are on short list of candidates to head the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as selected by Secretary-General Kofi Annan and announced today in advance of the 1 April 2006 end of the long-running tenure of Klaus Toepfer.

Candidates include Borge Brende, the former environmental minister of Norway; Carlos Manuel Rodriguez Echandi, the Minister of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica; Shafqat Kakakhel of Pakistan, the Deputy Executive Director of UNEP; Rajendra Pachauri of India, the Director-General of the Energy and Resource Institute; and Achim Steiner of German, the Director-General of the World Conservation Union.

Mr. Toepfer’s tenure, which began in February 1998, saw the Programme restructured into five priority areas: environmental assessment and early warning, development of policy instruments, enhanced coordination with environmental conventions, technology transfer and support to Africa, according to the Office of the Secretary-General. Mr. Annan’s office said that Mr. Toepfer, who had previously been Germany’s environmental minister, has also been instrumental in integrating environmental concerns and economic development.