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Jose-Maria Figueres

Former President of Costa Rica

After a successful business career, José María Figueres transitioned into public service in 1987 when he was appointed President of the National Railroad System. He later served as Minister of Foreign Trade and then as Minister of Agriculture. José María was elected President of Costa Rica in 1994, at the age of 39. As President he led and implemented a comprehensive national development strategy combining environmental, social and economic policies. For his work he received numerous international environmental awards, including the first ever Leadership Prize from the Global Environmental Facility (GEF).

After twelve years of public service, José María concentrated on international work. In 1999 he was appointed by Secretary General Kofi Annan to lead the first ever United Nations ICT Task Force. In 2000 he joined the Management Board of the World Economic Forum working with its founder Klaus Schwab, and later was appointed by the Board as its first CEO. In 2005 with Diego Hidalgo, founder of FRIDE and the Club of Madrid, he was responsible for the organization of the Conference on Democratic Transition and Consolidation, attended by 22 heads of state with the objective of countering growing global terrorism. As of 2009 together with Sir Richard Branson he co-founded The Carbon War Room, becoming its chairperson and CEO. There he led work to identify sectors of the global economy in which carbon emissions could be reduced at gigaton scale in a profitable way. One of these sectors was global shipping. As of 2013 José María was instrumental in launching the Global Ocean Commission, which he co-chaired with David Miliband (UK) and Trevor Manuel (SA). In 2014 this commission rendered its report entitled “From Decline to Recovery, a Rescue Package for the Global Ocean”, containing eight concrete recommendations to recover the health of the Ocean. President Figueres also serves on the boards of ‘Pristine Seas’, the ‘Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance’ (ORRA) and is a founding member of ‘Antarctica 2020’. As of 2024 he is a member of the UNESCO Advisory Board for the Ocean Decade. He is also a participant in ‘Friends of Ocean Action’ at the WEF. In international business as of 2017 José María is Co-Chairperson of the Board of Tojoy Shared Holding Group (China) and as of 2022 Global Ambassador of Tojoy’s Boss Health Initiative. He also serves as the Chairperson of SICPA Latin America.

José María lectures frequently on the importance of the Ocean, Antarctica, the clean energy revolution, sustainable development and technology applied to the environment. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and holds an MPA from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

He is married to Cinthya Berrocal and has two children from his first marriage, José María and Eugenia, and Melissa from Cinthya’s first marriage.

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