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It was with great sadness that the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, learned of the passing of Russell E. Train, former President of the World Wildlife Fund, who died on 17 September at the age of 92.

Russell E. Train was a renowned US conservationist who played a central role in creating groundbreaking laws in response to rising concerns about environmental protection in America and around the globe.

During a long and illustrious career in the public and private sectors, Mr Train occupied several key positions under several US administrations including President of the Conservation Foundation, Under-Secretary of the Department of the Interior, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and President and Chair of the World Wildlife Fund from 1978 to 1990.

Mr Train is widely regarded as one of the founding fathers of the World Heritage Convention. In 1965 Russell Train co-spearheaded a drive for an international convention to protect both cultural and natural heritage, with a White House Conference calling for a World Heritage Trust to stimulate international cooperation to protect “the world’s superb natural and scenic areas and historic sites for the present and the future of the entire world citizenry”.  From 1970 to 1973, Russell Train was the first chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) in the Executive Office of US President Richard Nixon, at the time when the World Heritage initiative was launched in a Presidential message in 1971.

“As the international community is marking the 40th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention, I am particularly sad to note the passing of Mr Train whose vision and dedication to safeguarding the world’s cultural and natural heritage for the benefit of future generations laid the groundwork for the world's foremost international treaty for heritage preservation”, said the Director-General.