Russell E. Train

A graduate of Princeton and educated as a lawyer at Columbia University, Russell E. Train worked as a legal advisor to US congressional committees and as a judge of the United States Tax Court. In 1965, moved by a long-standing interest in wildlife conservation, he left to become President of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Conservation Foundation. He later served as Deputy Secretary of the US Department of the Interior from 1969 to 1970, before becoming the first Chairman of the Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) of the Presidential Executive Council in 1970. From 1973 to 1977, he directed the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) during the Nixon and Ford eras. Russell Train was also very involved with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), of which he was a founding member. From 1978 to 1990, he served as Chairman, then as Chairman emeritus from 1994 to 2001. In 2003, he published Politics, Pollution and Pandas: An Environmental Memoir (Island Press), in which he chronicles his career and tells of the evolution of interest in environmental issues in the United States.

Russell Train promoted the concept of World Heritage in the years leading up to the 1972 Convention. In 1965, he attended the White House Conference on International Cooperation, where the idea for a World Heritage Trust was born. He then promoted this concept in various international circles and took the opportunity, when he was appointed Chairman of the Council of Environmental Quality, to introduce a formal commitment to a World Heritage initiative in the 1971 Presidential message to Congress. He participated in the celebrations for the 20th and 30th anniversaries of the Convention, respectively in Santa Fe and Venice.

The following audio excerpts are from an interview with Russell E. Train by Christina Cameron in December 2008 in Springfield, Virginia. In particular, he recalls the role he played in the development and realization of the concept of World Heritage as a formal international initiative.

UNESCO, World Heritage Oral Archives, Canada Research Chair on Built Heritage, University of Montreal, audio interview of Russell E. Train by Christina Cameron, Springfield, United States of America, 7 December 2008.