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José María Figueres Olsen

Chairman of The Carbon War Room, Former President of Costa Rica, Former CEO of the World Economic Forum

José María Figueres served as President of Costa Rica from 1994 to 1998. Elected to office at the age of 39, he is the youngest President of a Latin American country in modern times. Today his work revolves around the issues of innovation and competitiveness as key drivers of a new global economy. As Chairman of the Carbon War Room, he helps develops market-driven solutions to mitigate climate change. He is also a member of the UN's Secretary General's Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change and heads the Organization of American States Electoral Observation Mission, which is composed of citizens from 15 member states and 4 observer countries to the OAS.

"We have to get it right the first time - we can only have a plan A because there is no planet B"

José María Figueres Olsen

In detail

Prior to serving as President, he was Minister of Foreign Trade and Minister of Agriculture. He pioneered the linkage between sustainable development and technology. As President he led Costa Rica's emergence as a world leader in environmental protection, ecotourism, and ICT services - following a landmark $500m investment by Intel in 1997. After leaving government, he helped create and lead the United Nations ICT Task Force. In 2000, he then joined the World Economic Forum and became its first CEO in 2003.

What he offers you

As a former head of state deeply involved in the search for solutions to global challenges he offers a truly unique perspective into the world of business and international affairs and development. He speaks knowledgeably and passionately about how changes in the world can be brought about through innovation and principled leadership. He is able to advise and inspire organisations to set a course and do their best in navigating through a world of uncertainties and challenges.

How he presents

José María Figueres is recognised as a world-class speaker and moderator. He has been a keynote speaker at many of the world's most prestigious conferences and forums. He provides perspectives on future trends in an informative and thought provoking manner. Passion is undisputedly one of his strengths, but so is validity of his message. His inspirational presentations are both well researched and compelling.


He is fluent in English and Spanish.

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  • Innovation and Competitiveness
  • Leadership
  • The Economic Opportunity in Addressing Climate Change
  • Sustainable Economic Development
  • Attracting Foreign Investment


  • 2010
    Key Elements for a 2020 Competitiveness Agenda in the Americas
  • 1996
    Remarkable Events in Central America: International Perspectives on Sustainability


  • Chairman, Carbon War Room
  • Chairman, Global Fairness Initiative
  • UN Secretary General's Advisory Group on Climate and Energy
  • Trustee, DARA
  • Trustee, FRIDE
  • Clinton Global Initiative
  • Earth Council Geneva


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