Fisherman playing chess at Hout Bay harbour, South Africa
The greatest source of joy in my life is my wife and our family. Marta has connected me with the Spanish-speaking community and the creative world of Barcelona.

My own roots go back to The Netherlands (Delft), the French Huguenots and wonderful Africa. I was born and raised in South Africa, the Cape Province, a fruit and wine-producing region.

I grew up seeing society evolve from an undemocratic system with racially discriminating laws to an open,     non-racial democracy and an emerging market economy. Like many of us involved in anti-apartheid initiatives in the 1980s, I have a deep appreciation of the value of diversity, openness and transformative change.

Experience in research, diplomacy and management

While doing international doctoral research in the 1990s, I also served as diplomat and Deputy Director in the South African Goverment, Department of Foreign Affairs, specialising in environmental and socio-economic affairs. This included the combination of advanced research and first-hand experience, analysing the regulation of acid rain in the European Union while at the same time representing South Africa in the Kyoto climate negotiations.

During the 2000s I worked for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), leading private sector engagement in the field of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and operating as focal point for the UN Global Compact and Global Reporting Initiative. Working with leading analysts and recognised intitutions in the CSR field, I was deeply involved in normative work, practitioners dialogue and the development of guidance reports on topics such as green marketing, greening value chains, climate strategy, partnership development and sustainability reporting. This included working with the manufacturing, building, power generation and professional service industries.

During my last two years at UNEP, I served as Coordinator of one of its six Sub-Programmes. This provided valuable experience in applying principles of business management in the public sector, including the introduction of results-based management in a matrix organisation approach.

Since late 2011, I operate as an independent consultant based in Geneva, Switzerland, and Senior Research Fellow with Stellenbosch University Business School in Cape Town, South Africa. I collaborate with network partners based in Paris, Cape Town, Melbourne and elsewhere, doing project work with companies, business organisations and international (including UN) agencies in the terrain of social responsibility and the Green Economy.


I studied in South Africa, Germany, The Netherlands, United Kingdom and France. This prepared me for international research and collaboration, operating in dynamic and multicultural environments. Especially exciting in recent years was my course work in leadership and strategy at Said Business School (Oxford) and Tsinghua University (Beijing).

I have an extensive academic and research background, including a PhD in International Relations (EU, Stellenbosch University) and an Executive MBA (HEC Business School, Paris).

During my early years as a student, I developed a strong ability for interdisciplinary thinking and analysis, having studied and researched in the areas of philosophy, economics and management. 

Chairing group discussion at an ACCSR seminar in Sydney, 2007, with John Purcell.


"We would like to bring to your attention the wonderful web platform Cornis has created. As stated on the homepage of Materialitytracker (2015), this site 'is about the difference between the important and the trivial, framed in the context of sustainability'." Bob Eccles, Professor of Management Practice, Harvard Business School, USA

"While Director for the WBCSD during the last decade, I have at various times worked with Cornis. He was always a recognised and valued team member. He has shown a strong ability to understand core business management approaches and adapt these to current social responsibility expectations." Claude Fussler, Chair, EDF Sustainability Panel and Advisor, World Business Council for Sustainable Development

"His international network and experience in working with sustainability initiatives such as the GRI and ISO26000 is well recognised. I would certainly recommend Cornis for project work related to the use of ESG criteria in business and investment decision-making." Tom Rotherham, Director, Hermes Equity Ownership Services Ltd

"I have no hesitation in recommending Cornis. Always professional, always reliable, always fun to work with.” John Elkington, Co-Founder, SustainAbility and Executive Chair, Volans

"Throughout his service in UNEP and to the multilateral environmental agenda, his professionalism, skills and enthusiasm have enabled Cornis to make a significant and highly appreciated contribution." Achim Steiner, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme

"Cornis was one of my very best PhD students. He is an effective communicator who can hold his own in any academic and practitioner conversation. He uniquely combines his extensive international management experience with a creative understanding of current debates about international affairs." Philip Nel, Professor in International Relations, University of Otago, New Zealand