Meet Mr. Liu Zhenmin – the new USG of UN DESA

For many a seasoned diplomat, Mr. Liu Zhenmin striding the UN halls is a familiar sight. After all, during his career spanning over 35 years, Mr. Liu has been deeply involved in finding multilateral solutions to global problems and even served as his country’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations. On 26 July this year, he entered the UN building in quite a different role.

Mr. Liu now heads the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) – the institution that holds up the development pillar of the UN Secretariat. His top priority is to support countries big and small in achieving the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“The 2030 Agenda is a truly transformative and global endeavour,” said Mr. Liu. “For the first time in history, all members of the United Nations have charted a common development path with targets and responsibilities for developed and developing countries alike. We all have our share to do towards this common goal.”

“As head of UN DESA, it is my job to ensure the Department does its utmost to support Member States in their efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda.”

With many years of experience in multilateral climate change negotiations, including the conclusion of the Kyoto Protocol and the historic Paris Agreement, Mr. Liu has the skills necessary to help countries with diverging positions work together to solve the planet’s most pressing issues.

“Mr. Liu also widely participated in the international activities on the protection of our planet including Antarctica and the Oceans,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres in a statement. “Over the last several years, in various capacities, he has been consistently highlighting and advocating for sustainable development issues.”

Mr. Liu takes the reins at the Department at a turbulent time for international cooperation. Economic globalization is increasingly coming under fire for failing to deliver decent jobs, and isolationist rhetoric is gaining traction in many countries.

“We have to realize that economic globalization has gone too far to turn back now,” said Mr. Liu. “For better or for worse, we are all part of it and instead of isolating ourselves, we should look for ways to make globalization work for everyone and leave no one behind. Ultimately, this is what the 2030 Agenda is striving to accomplish.”

Keeping the promise of leaving no one behind will require helping the furthest behind first. It means enhancing the participation and inclusion of persons with disabilities, older persons, indigenous peoples, youth and women in societies. In international relations, it means special consideration for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs).

During his tenure, Mr. Liu will place a special focus on these social groups and countries, including strengthening the capacity building offered by UN DESA.

“For the Least Developed Countries, the 2030 Agenda presents a tremendous opportunity to lift millions out of poverty and enter a path of sustained prosperity,” he said. “But these countries often lack the capacity – be it institutions, knowledge or policy integration – to grasp this chance. UN DESA’s experts are working with governments to help them fully take advantage of the historic Sustainable Development Goals and the change they bring.”

For more information:

Biography of Mr. Liu Zhenmin