United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today announced the appointment of Kanni Wignaraja of Sri Lanka as the next Assistant Secretary‑General and Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Ms. Wignaraja succeeds Haoliang Xu of the People’s Republic of China, who has been recently appointed as the Assistant Secretary‑General and Director of UNDP’s Bureau for Policy and Programme Support.
Ms. Wignaraja recently served as the Acting Assistant Administrator and Director, Bureau for 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 United Nations Development Operations Coordination Office from 2014 to 2018.
She brings over 25 years of experience of the United Nations 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. Ms. Wignaraja joined the Organization in 1990 as the Policy and Evaluation Officer of United Nations Volunteers programme (UNV) and has worked in various field as well as in UNDP’s headquarters in New York, serving in the Asia and Pacific and the Africa region. She also served in the Bureau for Development Policy in progressively senior positions, including that of United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Zambia.
She holds a master’s degree in public administration (development economics) from Princeton University and a Bachelor of Arts (economics) from Bryn Mawr College, United States.