Institute for Environmental Security

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Elizabeth Dowdeswell

Elizabeth Dowdeswell is Visiting Professor at the University of Toronto and Associate Fellow at the European Centre for Public Affairs

Ms. Dowdeswell was Assistant Deputy Minister of Environment Canada from 1989 to 1992, responsible for the national weather and atmospheric agency. In that capacity, she played a leading role in global efforts to negotiate the treaty on climate change adopted at the 1992 Rio Summit - United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). She was also Canada's permanent representative to the World Meteorological Organization; principal delegate to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; and Canadian Chair of the Great Lakes Water Quality Board. Dowdeswell also worked as a management consultant to the Government of Canada and led a number of public inquiries into issues such as Canada's water policy and meteorological services.

From 1993 to 1998 she served as Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program, where she led the agency's transformation into a modern organization, developing programs in state-of-the-environment assessment and reporting, environmental law, and tackling new issues of trade and globalization.

In 2002, Dowdeswell was appointed President of the newly-created Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) charged with investigating long-term approaches for managing Canada's used nuclear fuel. She oversees both public consultation and scientific study of long-term waste management.

Dowdeswell is the author of numerous publications in both the popular press and professional journals. She is the recipient of nine honorary degrees, including six Doctor of Law degrees from various universities, a Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, and the Memorial Gold Medal awarded by Charles University in Prague.

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