Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and Pacific Kanni Wignaraja. Credits: UNDP


New York (USA) - United Nations Development Programme Administrator Achim Steiner welcomed the appointment to his senior leadership team today of Kanni Wignaraja as the new Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and Pacific.

“Our rigorous recruitment of senior leaders continues to yield world class talent,” said Steiner of the appointment.    “I am personally committed to having a leadership team with the expertise and perspectives needed to achieve UNDP’s global sustainable development mandate. I warmly welcome Kanni to this new position.”

In this role, Ms. Wignaraja will lead UNDP’s work supporting countries across the region in their efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. She will hold the rank of Assistant Secretary-General.

UNDP’s senior leadership team represents 9 countries from each region UNDP serves and, with this appointment, women now comprise the majority.

Ms. Wignaraja recently served as the Acting Assistant Administrator and Director, Bureau of Management Services, UNDP and as Special Adviser to the UNDP Administrator, roles that she has performed throughout 2019, after working as the Director of the UN Development Operations Coordination Office from 2014 to 2018. 

Ms. Wignaraja brings over twenty-five years of experience of the UN’s mission and UNDP’s role in the sustainable development agenda. She has a deep knowledge of the Asia-Pacific region, as well as the global, regional and country level workings of UNDP, across policy, programme, management and operations.

Prior to joining the UN, Kanni worked with the Ford Foundation in New York. Kanni has contributed to numerous papers, articles and conferences in areas of public policy, institutional reform, capacity development, human rights and leadership.

Ms. Wignaraja holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration (Development Economics) from Princeton University and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Bryn Mawr College. She is married and has two children.

UNDP Around the world