Attention Journalists Covering the Johannesburg Summit

Washington, D.C.

August 21, 2002


Megan Rabbitt

Timothy E. Wirth, President of the United Nations Foundation and the Better World Fund, created by businessman and philanthropist R.E. “Ted” Turner to support UN causes, will be available prior to and during the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) as an expert commentator. Mr. Wirth has been a recognized leader in U.S. and global environmental policy for the past quarter century. Also available is Mr. Jean Claude Faby, UN Liaison for the UN Foundation. Mr. Faby has been a high level participant in UN environmental conferences for the last 20 years.

Local, National, and Global Environmental Protection
Throughout his career, Wirth has been a champion of local, national and global environmental causes. Under Wirth’s leadership, the United Nations Foundation has made global environmental initiatives a top priority – with special focus on promoting clean energy around the world as a means of promoting development and environmental protection, and on preservation of biological diversity.

As Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs, Wirth was responsible for oversight of US engagement in all international negotiations related to the environment and related issues. He led numerous U.S. delegations to international negotiations and oversaw US preparations for the historic 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, which recognized the linkages between demographic change, environmental protection and development. In 1992, Wirth was an active participant on the U.S. Senate Observer delegation to the UN Conference on Environment and Development, the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Sen. Wirth also oversaw US participation and policy in negotiations related to the Framework Convention on Climate Change, playing a key role in the development of US policy and the eventual conclusion of the Kyoto Protocol to the Convention. Wirth was active in a wide variety of other environmental negotiations and activities related to the Convention on Biological Diversity, protection of coral reefs, development of clean drinking water and sanitation capabilities throughout the world, sustainable use of fisheries (and protection of ocean species from dolphins to whales), and persistent organic pollutants. In addition, he played a key role in development of US policy with respect to the integration of trade and environmental disciplines, which has emerged as one of the key issues in preparations for the WSSD. Wirth also helped foster a series of bilateral arrangements to promote environmental protection and development – with India, China, Bolivia, Japan, Mexico and others.

In the US Senate, Wirth was a national leader on global environmental issues, introducing the first comprehensive legislation in the United States to address emissions of “greenhouse” gases and prevent global warming. In 1988, he called for a 20% reduction in US CO2 emissions by 2000. He also was active in efforts to protect the Earth’s stratospheric ozone layer and helped call attention to the quiet crisis of global biodiversity loss. Senator Wirth also worked across party lines with his close colleague, the late Senator John Heinz, to champion new means of achieving environmental goals. Senators Wirth and Heinz were the sponsors of “Project 88,” which played a key role in advancing the application of market-based strategies for achieving key environmental objectives.

As a U.S. Representative and Senator, he was a leader on behalf of protecting Colorado’s environment – promoting the permanent preservation of Colorado’s premier natural sites as wilderness; and fighting for clean air legislation to help eviscerate Denver’s pronounced “brown cloud” and violation of the federal Clean Air Act. Throughout his Congressional career, Wirth was active in the effort to develop comprehensive, clean energy policies for the United States and played an important role in the development of the Solar Energy Research Institute (now known as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory), and its location in Golden, Colorado.

Working for Environmental Causes at the UN
Mr. Jean Claude Faby has had a long and distinguished career with the United Nations, with a particular focus on environmental issues. Mr. Faby had been Deputy Director of the NY office of the UN Environment Program, where he was responsible for representing UNEP at environmental meetings in the US. Later he became the Director of the North American Office of the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), better known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Leading up to and during the Earth Summit, he was spokesman for the Secretary-General of the Conference, Maurice Strong, who had earlier been Secretary-General of the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment, the first to place environmental issues at the top of the international agenda.

During the Earth Summit, Mr. Faby was involved in all matters pertaining to NGO and media participation in the Summit. He also liaised on behalf of the Secretariat with all NY-based delegations involved in the preparatory process, and participated in the large number of North American based ancillary meetings, making numerous presentations on sustainable development and on the progress of the preparatory process. He also presided over the Secretariat steering group in NY which provided logistical backstopping for the Summit and in numerous UN interagency meetings which kept under review the substantive contributions of major UN Agencies, such as UNEP, UNESCO, FAO etc., to the Summit.

After Rio, Mr. Faby joined, as Chief of Staff, the newly created Department of Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development, which the UN General Assembly established to service the also newly created UN Commission on Sustainable Development, charged with monitoring and promoting the Rio outcomes.

He left the UN in 1998 to join the UN Foundation as Vice President for UN Liaison and NY Representative.


The United Nations Foundation was created in 1998 with businessman and philanthropist R.E. Turner’s historic gift to support UN causes. The United Nations Foundation promotes a more peaceful, prosperous, and just world through the support of the United Nations and its Charter. Through its grantmaking and by building new and innovative public-private partnerships, the United Nations Foundation acts to meet the most pressing health, humanitarian, socioeconomic and environmental challenges of the 21st century.