Prof. Dr. Klaus Töpfer from Germany was born in Silesia in 1938. After secondary school and military service he studied economics. In 1968 he earned a doctorate at the University of Münster in regional policy and locational decisions
and went on to teach as professor at various universities. German Chancellor Helmut Kohl appointed him Federal Minister of the Environment
in 1987. Two years later he took over the Federal Ministry for Regional Planning, Building and Urban Development.
In 1998, Klaus Töpfer was appointed Executive Director of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP)
in Nairobi – partially also as a result of his dedication at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio where he supported initiatives such as the UN Convention for Biodiversity
and the UN Convention of Climate Change
. Currently, the OWA-VIP laureate is Director of the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) in Potsdam, Germany. His solidarity with organic agriculture dates back to the 1980s to his time as Minister of the Environment when organic farmers were defamed by the Federal Minister of Agriculture and by the President of the German Farmers Association respectively as “dicky ideologists”
and “green crackpots”