The Speaker

Gerd Billen,
President of the Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband e.V. (Federation of German Consumer Organisations, or vzbv)

Gerd Billen succeeded Prof. Dr. Edda Müller as President of the Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband on 1 August 2007.

Gerd Billen was born in Speicher in Germany's Eifel region in 1955 and studied Social Science, Nutritional Science and Household Economics at the Rheinische Friedrich Wilhelms University of Bonn from 1979 to 1984. He initially worked as a freelance journalist and press officer for the Bundesverband Bügerinitiativen Umweltschutz (Germany's national association of citizens' environmental protection initiatives, or BBU). In 1985 he was one of the founders of the Verbraucher Initiative e.V. (German consumers' initiative, or V.I.) and became its national chairman. Among other things, Gerd Billen became known as the advocate for thousands of people who had suffered harm from wood preservatives. Other major issues in which he was involved were the promotion of fair trade and healthy food. He was the National Chairman of the Neuland Programme for meat from animals kept in a natural and appropriate environment. Billen has written numerous books and articles on ecological and environmental topics.

From 1993 to 2005 Gerd Billen was the CEO of the Naturschutzbund Deutschland NABU e.V. (German nature conservation association), and for many years he was a member and chairman of the Jury Umweltzeichen (environmental labelling jury). In 2005 he moved from the Naturschutzbund to the Otto Group as head of its Environmental and Social Policy Department.