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New York - UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner welcomed the announcement today of the Secretary-General’s appointment of the following four individuals to his senior leadership team.

Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa of Nigeria will lead the Regional Bureau for Africa; Ms. Ulrika Modeér of Sweden will lead the Bureau for External Relations and Advocacy; Ms. Asako Okai of Japan will lead the Crisis Response Unit; and Mr. Luis Felipe Lopez-Calva of Mexico will lead the Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean.

The four new appointees were selected from among the world’s leading development experts in sustainable development, resource mobilization, financing for development, and resilience and crisis recovery. All four Bureau Directors will hold the rank of Assistant Secretary-General.

“We set the bar very high and I am pleased that our recruitment yielded such top talent,” said Achim Steiner.  “My leadership team now represents 10 countries, from each region UNDP serves, and is 50:50 gender balanced, reflecting my commitment to bring together world class talent that is reflective of gender and geographical diversity, and possesses a set of perspectives and expertise needed to achieve our mandate on sustainable human development. I welcome all four warmly to the UNDP family.”

Bios of Appointees:

Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa has many years of distinguished service with the United Nations, most recently as UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Ethiopia since 2015.  Before that, she served as Resident Coordinator in Uganda and Lesotho, and held several posts with the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), as Chief of the Africa Section in New York and in a number of field duty stations (Liberia, Sierra Leone). She also worked for the UN Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Public Information in New York. Before joining the United Nations, Ms. Eziakonwa held a series of senior positions with civil society organisations in Africa. Ms. Eziakonwa holds a Master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, with a focus on Economic and Political Development, as well as a Bachelor’s of Education degree, English and Literary Studies from the University of Benin, Nigeria. Born in Nigeria, Ms. Eziakonwa is married and has a daughter.

Ms. Ulrika Modéer currently serves as State Secretary for International Development Cooperation and Climate and has been instrumental in reshaping Sweden’s international development cooperation to support the achievement of the 2030 Agenda. During her tenure as State Secretary, Ms. Modéer has contributed to global policy on issues of relevance to UNDP, including on gender equality, UN reform, financing of the multilateral system, climate and environment, conflict prevention and the humanitarian-development nexus. Ms. Modéer combines a strong policy background with experience from parliamentary work as well as from civil society, and has had several assignments in Latin America (Bolivia, Guatemala) and Africa (Mozambique/southern Africa).  Born in 1969, Ms.Modéer holds a BA in International Relations from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. She is fluent in Swedish, English and Spanish. She is married, with three children.

Ms. Asako Okai has over 30 years of distinguished experience in the Japanese foreign service and in the United Nations, most recently serving as Consul-General of Japan in Vancouver, Canada. She possesses an extensive track record in development, humanitarian response, disaster management and peace building work, at both the strategic and operational levels.

Throughout her career, she has closely engaged in the evolution of international cooperation frameworks in different capacities, including the forging of historic institutional reforms of the international cooperation apparatus in Japan, and implementing innovative financial mechanisms to support reliable humanitarian funding model as Japan’s Director of Humanitarian Assistance. Ms. Okai has held several diplomatic senior positions worldwide and closely worked with the United Nations Headquarters, both in the Permanent Mission of Japan to the UN and as a Senior Member of the Office of the President of the 66th UN General Assembly. Ms. Okai holds a Master’s of Arts in History of Art, Emmanuel College, Cambridge University and a Bachelor’s degree in Law, Hitotsubashi University, Japan. Born in 1966, she is married.

Mr. Luis López-Calva is currently the Practice Manager of the Poverty and Equity Global Practice (Europe and Central Asia) at the World Bank. He was the co-director and lead author of the World Development Report 2017 on “Governance and the Law”. He was previously Lead Economist and Regional Poverty Advisor in the Bank’s Europe and Central Asia Region, and Lead Economist at the Poverty, Equity and Gender Unit in the Latin America and Caribbean PREM Directorate, also at The World Bank. From 2007-2010, he served as Chief Economist for Latin America and the Caribbean at UNDP in New York.

Mr. López-Calva has been Associate Editor of the Journal of Human Development and Capabilities and he is Fellow of the Human Development and Capabilities Association. He has also been President of the Network on Inequality and Poverty in the Latin America and Caribbean Economic Association. His research interests focus on labor markets, poverty and inequality, institutions and microeconomics of development. He has presented his research at top institutions including:  Harvard University, Stanford University, University of California-Berkeley, University of California-San Diego, and the OECD Development Center. He holds a Master’s Degree in Economics from Boston University, as well as a Master’s and a PhD in Economics from Cornell University.

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