José María Figueres Olsen was born in San José, Costa Rica, in 1954.
He holds an engineering degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and an MA in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
After a successful career in business José Maria Figueres became Minister of Foreign Trade in 1986 for two years. From 1988 on, he was Minister of Agriculture.
In 1994 Figueres was elected president of Costa Rica. He was the youngest President of a Central American country in modern times! During his 4-year-presidency, he created a comprehensive national development strategy based on the tenets of sustainability: sound economics, investment in human development, and a strong alliance with nature.
He pioneered the linkage between sustainable development and technology, work he continued after leaving government. He helped create and lead the United Nations Information and Communication Technologies Task Force. He was the first person to be named CEO of the World Economic Forum, where he strengthened global corporate ties to social and governmental sectors.
Today he continues to work in the fields of technology and development, and is currently the CEO of CONCORDIA 21, based in Spain, dedicated to the support of organizations, which promote development and democratic values around the world. He is also managing partner of IJ Partners, chairman of the Carbon War Room and chairman of the advisory board of Arcano Earth Fund.