José María Figueres, former CEO of the World Economic Forum, is currently the President of the Carbon War Room, a 2009 global initiative conceptualized by Sir Richard Branson and a select group of innovators.
José María Figueres came to the Carbon War Room as an experienced and internationally recognized leader in the achievement of sustainable development goals; after a successful business career he entered public service in 1987, and having held several cabinet-level posts was elected President of Costa Rica from 1994 to 1998, becoming the youngest Latin American head of state in modern times.
As President, Figueres created a comprehensive national development strategy combining sound macroeconomic policies, strategic investments in human development, and a strong alliance with nature. For his pioneering work he received the first ever Global Environmental Facility Leadership Award in 1998.
Convinced that technology enhances sustainable development, Figueres has made this linkage in the realms of business, public service, and non-profit organizations; he brought Intel to Costa Rica, the only Latin American country with such a production facility, and spearheaded the creation of a national cluster of high tech exports.
Together with MIT's Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte and world-renowned development economist Jeffrey Sachs, Figueres established the Digital Nations Programme with the objective of enhancing development opportunities through technological applications. In 1999 he established the Information and Communication Technologies Task Force ICT, serving first as Special Representative to the ICT Advisory Group and later as elected Chairman of the ICT Task Force for 3 years.
In 2000 Figueres joined the World Economic Forum as Managing Director and later became the organization's first CEO; during his tenure until late 2004, he strengthened the organization's multi-stakeholder approach by identifying long-term objectives on which global corporations, government representatives, and civil society leaders collaborated.
As of 2005 he became CEO of Concordia 21, a social investment vehicle based in Madrid that promotes development and democratic values around the world, and in 2010 he returned to Geneva as Manager of IJ Partners, an investment and wealth management company with a specific focus on the real economy.
Throughout his career Figueres has served as member of several company boards, including Terremark Inc, San Cristobal Group, BT Global Services, and Abraaj Capital. He has also served with distinction on the boards of several non-profit organizations like World Wildlife Fund, World Resources Institute, Stockholm Environment Institute, and as international advisor at the Global Environmental Action.
Figueres is Chairman of the Global Fairness Initiative and serves on the boards of the Earth Council Geneva; internationally recognized humanitarian organization, DARA; and leading Spanish think-tank focused on European issues, FRIDE. He is also a member of the Dean's Alumni Leadership Council at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a Fellow at the Thunderbird School of Management.
José María Figueres holds a B.A in Engineering from the U.S Military Academy at West Point and an M.A in Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. As President of the Carbon War Room, he leads a global initiative focused on accelerating entrepreneurial solutions to deploy profitable, scalable clean technologies across industries.