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13 April 2016
Statement from UNA-NCA President on the Passing of Mostafa Kamal Tolba


One of the great values of the United Nations is that it  brings together the world’s best scientists and  professional experts on neutral ground to address complex global challenges that can only be resolved through international collaboration. This quiet, scientific based diplomacy is rarely noted in the media, but it happens every day, and from time to time, with outstanding success.

Thus, we note the passing on March 28th  at age 93  of the eminent Egyptian scientist, Mostafa Kamal Tolba, who led the delegation to the landmark 1972 Stockholm Conference which established the United Nations Environment Programme. Dr. Tolba served as Executive Director of the UNEP based in Nairobi for 17 years. He helped create the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which successfully facilitated the global framework agreed to at Paris Conference last December.

Dr. Tolba will be remembered mostly, however, for his leadership in the fight against ozone depletion which culminated in the Vienna Convention (1985) and the Montreal Protocol (1987) and subsequent amendments. Generally heralded as the most successful environmental treaty ever,  the Montreal Protocol halted the depletion of the ozone by dramatically reducing the amount of chlorofluorocarbons and other chemicals that were depleting the ozone layer and  increasing the incidence of skin cancers. Through quiet skillful scientific diplomacy, recognizing the  diverse capabilities of each country, Tolba brought every State, large and small, to the table, and 197 nations subscribed to the Convention.

Where leading experts put politics aside and work diligently to achieve common  objectives and shared values, “miracles” can happen—and they do every day among the unsung heroes of the United Nations.


Ambassador Donald T. Bliss
President, UNA-NCA