Jose Maria Figueres, at 39, served as the youngest president of Costa Rica during the 20th century, from 1994–1998. From 1986 through 1988 he was the Minister of Foreign Trade, and from 1988-1990 Costa Rica’s Minister of Agriculture.
Mr. Figueres graduated from West Point Military Academy in 1979, with a major in engineering. Upon returning home to Costa Rica he was charged with overhauling the National Railway system. He subsequently graduated from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 1991, with a Master’s degree in Public Administration.
Mr. Figueres’ presidency was synonymous with the promotion of sustainable development, improved health care and education, and an abiding respect for the environment. His administration enacted important legislation for biodiversity and climate change as well; the first carbon tax being approved in 1995.
Following his presidency he founded Entebbe, the Costa Rican Foundation for Sustainable Development. He was elected chairman of the United Nations Information and Communication Technologies Task Force, and in 2000 was appointed as Director of the World Economic Forum. In 2005 he became CEO of the Felipe IV Group, located in Madrid, Spain, working in development, dialogue and democracy around the world.
Jose Maria Figueres was also the Director of the World Wildlife Fund, the World Resources Institute, and the Stockholm Environment Institute. His many honors over the years include, among others, the Kew Gardens Annual Award in 1995, acknowledgement from the World Banks Global Environmental Fund for his leadership and efforts for the environment in 1998, an award from the Climate Institute of Washington, D.C. the same year, and a Sustainability Award from Switzerland in 2003.
Currently Mr. Figueres brings his energy and experience to the Board of the Earth Council Geneva, to the Global Fairness Initiative, and to the Global Leadership for Climate Action Task Force. His dedication and hard work in furthering responsible, sustainable development and environmental integrity are highly appreciated and prized.