Shamshad Akhtar of Pakistan to head UN Asia-Pacific regional development arm

Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development Shamshad Akhtar. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

10 December 2013 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed seasoned economist Shamshad Akhtar of Pakistan as the new head of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

Ms. Akhtar will succeed Noeleen Heyzer of Singapore, who will continue to serve as Special Adviser of the Secretary General for Timor-Leste.

Since 2012, Ms. Akhtar has served as the Secretary-General’s Senior Advisor on Economic Development and Finance and as Assistant Secretary-General in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).

She has over 30 years of broad experience as an economist with “an impressive track record of policymaking and implementation in the economic, development and finance fields both at the country and regional level,” according to the announcement of her appointment.

Ms. Akhtar brings with her broad Asia experience, having advised and structured operations across a number of economies in the region, and having been involved in a range of regional cooperation forums, including Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

The former Governor of the Central Bank of Pakistan has also served with the World Bank as well as the Asian Development Bank.

Headquartered in Bangkok, ESCAP serves a region that is home to 4.1 billion people. It works to overcome some of the region’s greatest challenges by providing projects, technical assistance and capacity building to member countries in areas such as trade and investment, transport, social development, and environment and sustainable development.

The body is made up of 53 Member States and 9 Associate Members, with a geographical scope that stretches from Turkey in the west to the Pacific island nation of Kiribati in the east, and from Russia in the north to New Zealand in the south.


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