Previous USGs

Mr. Wu Hongbo

Mr. Wu Hongbo was Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs from August 2012 to July 2017. Prior to his appointment, Mr. Wu served as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China to the Federal Republic of Germany. Among his various diplomatic assignments, Mr. Wu served as China’s Ambassador to the Philippines.

Mr. Wu was extensively engaged previously in a broad range of social and economic issues relating to Hong Kong SAR (Special Administrative Region) and Macao SAR, having served as Director and Director-General of the Department of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan Affairs of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and China’s Chief Representative of Sino-British Joint Liaison Group. He was a leading official responsible for handling Hong Kong SAR’s ties with over 30 international organizations and the continued application of over 200 international conventions to Hong Kong SAR.

Mr. Wu brought to UN DESA his outstanding policy-making experience and problem-solving skills, as well as rich and extensive experience with multilateral organizations and international conferences. As Director-General and later Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, Mr. Wu worked with the Chinese inter-agency coordination mechanism for the Boao Forum for Asia, the Chinese working group for the implementation mechanism of the UN conventions on environment and development, and the Chinese inter-ministry coordination mechanism for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of the New Champions.

As Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Mr. Wu guided the UN Secretariat support for the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including . He oversaw the substantive support by UN DESA to a numerous intergovernmental processes, including more recently, the intergovernmental deliberations on the post-2015 development agenda, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, the General Assembly High-level Meeting on Persons with Disability, the High-level Dialogue on Migration and Development. Support to the annual meetings of the Second and Third Committees of the General Assembly, the meetings of the Economic and Social Council, including its annual Forum on Financing for Development Follow-up and Development Cooperation Forum, and the work of the functional commissions of ECOSOC are also delivered under the guidance of USG Wu.

In addition to intergovernmental processes, Mr. Wu oversaw UN DESA’s policy analysis and capacity development work. He also served as the Convenor of the Executive Committee on Economic and Social Affairs and the Chair of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Financing for Development. Mr. Wu advised the United Nations Secretary-General on all development-related issues, including sustainable development, internet governance, and financing for development.

Mr. Wu also served as the Secretary-General of the high-level United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development, which took place at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 5 to 9 June 2017. Mr. Wu also served as the Secretary-General of the third International Conference on Small Island Developing States(Apia, 2014), the third International Conference on Financing for Development(Addis Ababa, 2015) and the Global Sustainable Transport Conference (Ashgabat, 2016).

Mr. Wu graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University and pursued his postgraduate studies at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand.

Links to interviews with Mr. Wu

Mr. Sha Zukang

photo credit lineSha Zukang was Under Secretary-General of DESA from July 2007 to July 2012.

A career diplomat, Mr. Sha Zukang became the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs on 1 July 2007. As such, he heads the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, which is responsible for the follow-up to the major United Nations Summits and Conferences, and services the Second and Third Committees of the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council as well as the vast majority of its functional commissions and expert bodies. He also convenes the Executive Committee on Economic and Social Affairs, the UN Secretariat’s network for joint planning and initiatives on development.

Mr. Jose Antonio Ocampo

photo credit lineJose Antonio Ocampo was Under Secretary-General of DESA from September 2003 to June 2007.

Mr. Ocampo came to the post after almost six years as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

On arriving at DESA, Mr. Ocampo took it upon himself to advance the quality of DESA’s analytical work. His main achievement in this area was restructuring two of the Department’s flagship documents, the World Economic and Social Survey (WESS) and the World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP). WESS was transformed into a high quality report on major global issues such as migration, financing for development, diverging development patterns and development in an aging world. WESP was consolidated as the major UN report on short-term world economic conditions, as a joint project of DESA, UNCTAD and the United Nations regional commissions- the core members of the Executive Committee on Economic and Social Affairs (EC-ESA).

The former Under Secretary-General also invested significant time and effort into facilitating the UN Development Agenda which emerged from the various UN summits and Conferences of the 1990s onwards. This task involved supporting the UN intergovernmental process, including joint support from members of EC-ESA. It also involved improving follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) through the work of the interagency statistical team led by DESA’s Statistics Division, the issuance of special annual reports on the MDGs and incorporating the agreements of the 2005 World Summit into the MDG agenda.

Mr. Ocampo also did much to improve the machinery of UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). A major accomplishment here was transforming and broadening the agenda of the old “ad hoc” working group of international co-operation on tax matters, which became a regular technical organ of ECOSOC. Major reforms were proposed for ECOSOC itself as part of the process leading-up to and following the 2005 World Summit. Some of these were implemented under Mr. Ocampo including the creation of the development co-operation forum and the high-level follow-up to the UN Conferences and Summits.

Mr. Nitin Desai

photo credit lineNitin Desai was Under Secretary-General of DESA from December 1992 to August 2003.

In March 1997, Nitin Desai was asked to co-ordinate the consolidation of the three economic and social departments in the United Nations Secretariat in New York into the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).

DESA was charged with providing substantive support to the normative, analytic, statistical and relevant technical co-operation work of the UN in the economic and social sphere. Mr. Desai was subsequently asked to head this department.

He was also designated as the Convenor of the Executive Committee on Economic and Social Affairs, which brings together the heads of all UN Secretariat entities directly concerned with economic, environmental and social issues.

In his capacity as Under Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Mr. Desai provided vital leadership to the special sessions of the General Assembly which reviewed progress made five years after the global conferences on sustainable development (1997), and on population and development, small island development states, advancement of women, and social development (2000).

Under his guidance, DESA organized three other major conferences; the International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey, Mexico, the Second World Assembly on Ageing in Madrid, Spain and the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, for which he served as Secretary-General.

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