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After a successful business career and serving as Minister of State, José María Figueres was elected President of Costa Rica at the age of 39. As President 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 which he continued after leaving government by helping create and then leading the United Nations ICT Task Force as its first Chairperson. He was the first person to become CEO of the World Economic Forum, where he strengthened global corporate ties to social and governmental sectors. Later he was named CEO of Concordia 21, dedicated to supporting organizations that promote development and democratic values around the world.

Figueres is currently President of the Carbon War Room, which implements entrepreneurial market-driven solutions to reduce carbon emissions at the gigaton level and mitigate climate change. He holds an Engineering Degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and a Masters in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.