Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), has been appointed the new Chair of UN-Water by the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres. UN-Water is the UN’s coordination mechanism on water and sanitation.
In his role as Chair, Houngbo will lead in bringing together and leveraging the efforts of a number of United Nations agencies and international organizations.
“I am pleased to take on the chairmanship and look forward to leading this global framework that aims to provide all people with access to sustainably-managed water and sanitation services,” Houngbo said.
Born and raised in rural Togo, Houngbo has spent more than 30 years working to improve the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable people. He has extensive experience in political affairs, international development, diplomacy and financial management. Houngbo took office as President of IFAD on 1 April 2017.
Prior to Houngbo’s current appointment as IFAD President, he was the Deputy Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO) where he led field operations in more than 100 countries and managed bilateral and multilateral partnerships. He also served as Prime Minister of the Republic of Togo from 2008 to 2012, where he introduced economic reforms and enhanced the rule of law and civil liberties.
IFAD is a specialized agency of the UN that was established as an international financial institution in 1977 in response to the food crises of the early 1970s that primarily affected the Sahelian countries of Africa. Working with rural people, governments, donors, non-governmental organizations and many other partners, IFAD invests in long-term development in rural areas where 80 per cent of the poorest people live.
The UN-Water Chair is a UN Executive Head and nominated to serve in a personal capacity and not in representation of his or her Member entity. Houngbo succeeds Guy Ryder, Director-General of ILO, who has been appointed as Chair of the High-Level Committee on Programmes. Ryder was thanked by the UN chief for promoting truly effective collaboration across the United Nations system on water and sanitation issues.