Commissioner for the Environment (2009 - 2014)
Janez Potocnik is co-chair of the International Resource Panel. Among other roles, he is a partner at SYSTEMIQ and an advisor to thought-leading institutions such as the European Forestry Institute. He was previously the European Commissioner for Environment.
Dr. Janez Potocnik was born in 1958. He graduated with honors from the Faculty of Economics of the University of Ljubljana. He continued his studies at the same university, where he graduated with a master’s degree in 1989 and a Ph.D. degree in 1993.
For several years (1989-1993) he worked as a researcher at the Institute for Economic Research in Ljubljana. In July 1994, he was appointed director of the Institute for Macroeconomic Analysis and Development of the Republic of Slovenia. In April 1998, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia appointed Dr. Potocnik as head of the negotiating team for the accession of the Republic of Slovenia to the European Union. From June to December 2000, he was also Acting Director of the Government Office for European Affairs. In June 2001, he was appointed a ministerial adviser in the office of the prime minister. On 24 January 2002, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia appointed him Minister without Portfolio responsible for European Affairs.
From 1991 to 2004, Dr. Potocnik was also an assistant at the Law Faculty of the University of Ljubljana, where he lectured on statistics and economics.
Dr. Potocnik became a member of the European Commission on May 1, 2004. From 2004-2010, he was responsible for science and research. In 2010, he took up a second term as a member of the European Commission responsible for the environment. The mandate ended on November 1, 2014.
As recently as 2014, he was appointed to a three-year term as a member and co-chair of the International Resource Panel hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme. In the same month, he was also appointed Chairman of the Forum for the Future of Agriculture and a member of the Advisory Board of the European Policy Centre. Since April 2016, he has been a partner at SYSTEMIQ. As of 2020, he is the president of ThinkForest.
In May 2008, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree by Imperial College London. In March 2009, he received an honorary degree from the University of Ghent (Belgium). In May 2016, he was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Economics and Business Administration by Finland’s Aalto University.
In September 2013, he received the 2013 United Nations Champions of the Earth Award for Efforts to Promote Resource Efficiency and Reduce Food Waste in the European Union. In March 2014, the Catalan Association of Research Organizations awarded him the ACER Award for the visionary contribution and leadership that made the ERC (European Research Council) possible. In December 2014, the European Environment Bureau (EEB) awarded him the Twelve Stars for the Environment Award for his science-based approach to promoting environmental sustainability. In January 2015, during the World Economic Forum, he was awarded by Circulars 2015, an initiative of the Forum of Young Global Leaders, with the Fortune Award for Leadership in the Circular Economy. In November 2015, the Karlowitz Society awarded him the Hans-Karl-von-Karlowitz-2015-prize for bold, open and international work on the idea of the circular economy in Europe.