On 13 May 2008, the United Nations Secretary-General announced the appointment of Alicia Bárcena Ibarra of Mexico as Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). Ms. Bárcena Ibarra, who assumed her new position on 1 July 2008, replaced Mr. José Luis Machinea of Argentina.
Ms. Bárcena Ibarra served as the Chef de Cabinet to the former Secretary-General before serving as the Under-Secretary-General for Management.
Earlier in her career, Ms. Bárcena Ibarra served as Deputy Executive Secretary of ECLAC, and in this capacity she contributed substantively and increased interagency collaboration to provide a regional perspective on the Millennium Development Goals and on Financing for Sustainable Development, connecting issues of inequality, poverty, economic development and sustainability with the required fiscal policies needed to address extreme poverty.
As Chief of the Environment and Human Settlements Division of ECLAC, she heightened the profile of the Regional Commission in the areas of climate change, sustainable energy, fiscal policies and environment. She previously served as Coordinator of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), as well as Adviser to the Latin American and Caribbean Sustainable Development Programme in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
She was part of the Secretariat that was in charge of preparing the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. She was Principal Officer in charge of various topics related to Agenda 21 and was also the Founding Director of the Earth Council in Costa Rica.
Previously, she served in the Government of Mexico as the first Vice-Minister of Ecology and as Director-General of the National Institute of Fisheries.
In the academic arena, Ms. Bárcena Ibarra was the Director of the South-East Regional Centre of the Instituto Nacional de Investigaciones sobre Recursos Bióticos in the State of Yucatán, working closely with the Mayan communities. She has taught and researched on natural sciences, mostly on botany, ethnobotany and ecology. She has published a number of articles on sustainable development, namely on financing, public policies, environment and public participation.
Ms. Bárcena Ibarra holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University.
Ms. Bárcena Ibarra was born in 1952.