Julia Crause, former UNEP staff member (1999-2007)
I joined UNEP as a young assistant to the Executive Director, Klaus Töpfer, in 1999. After a few months into the job, preparations began for UNEP’s first Global Ministerial Environment Forum which was to take place in Malmö, Sweden. It was a crucial session to set the environmental agenda for the Rio+10 process. We worked 12 hours a day and more to get the meeting up and running. The meeting was in full swing when Mr. Töpfer became seriously ill and had to be taken to hospital. He stayed in hospital at night and participated in ministerial discussions and negotiations during the day. The meeting was a success and many participants probably didn’t realize what was going on behind the scenes. Only that Mr. Töpfer didn’t quite look himself on the official ministerial photograph!