Centre for Global Negotiations

Members of the Independent Commission on International Development Issues (ICIDI)

Biography: Jan Pronk

Johannes Pieter (Jan) Pronk was born in The Hague, Netherlands, on March 16th, 1940. Having completed his secondary education, Mr. Pronk studied economics at the School of Economics in Rotterdam, graduating in 1964. From 1965 to 1971, he lectured at the School of Economics’ Development Programming Centre and the Netherlands Economic Institute in Rotterdam.

Mr. Pronk was a member of the Lower House of Parliament for the Labour Party (PvdA) from 1971 to 1973, from 1978 to 1980, and from 1986 to 1989.

From May 1973 to December 1977, Mr. Pronk was Minister for Development Cooperation in the Den Uyl government in the Netherlands. Pronk has also had a distinguished career with the United Nations, serving as Deputy Secretary-General of UNCTAD (1980-1985) and Assistant Secretary-General of the UN (1985-86).

From 1986 to 1989, Pronk was first deputy chairman of the Dutch Labor Party. He was a professor of international development policy at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague from 1979 to 1980, and in 1989 he occupied the Den Uyl Chair (endowed by the Wiardi Beckman Foundation) at the University of Amsterdam.

Jan Pronk was the treasurer of the Brandt Commission, and has also been secretary to the Mansholt Committee, and a member of the editorial board of The International Spectator. On August 3rd, 1998, he was appointed Minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment of The Netherlands.

As chair of the UN Conference of Parties of the Convention on Climate Change (CoP 6), held in Bonn, Germany, in July 2001, Pronk worked literally day and night to secure agreement on the Kyoto protocol. His hard work earned him the 2001 Climate e-award of the U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Energy.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan selected Pronk as his Special Envoy to the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, where Pronk skillfully moderated the discussion on the priority themes of Water and Sanitation, Health, Environment and Biodiversity. In March 2003, Jan Pronk was announced as the new chair of the Geneva-based Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), formally taking over the position from Sir Richard Jolly in December 2003 at the Council's 1st WASH Global Forum in Dakar, Senegal.

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