UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, has appointed Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), as the new Chair of UN-Water. In his role as Chair, Houngbo will lead in bringing together and leveraging the efforts of a number of United Nations agencies and international organisations.
“I am pleased to take on the chairmanship and look forward to leading this global framework that aims to provide all people with access to sustainably-managed water and sanitation services,” said Houngbo said.
Born and raised in rural Togo, Houngbo has spent more than 30 years working to improve the lives of some of the world’s most vulnerable people. He has experience in political affairs, international development, diplomacy and financial management.
Prior to Houngbo’s current appointment as IFAD President, he was the Deputy Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO) where he led field operations in more than 100 countries and managed bilateral and multilateral partnerships. He also served as Prime Minister of the Republic of Togo from 2008 to 2012, where he introduced economic reforms and enhanced the rule of law and civil liberties.
Houngbo succeeds Guy Ryder, Director-General of ILO, who has been appointed as Chair of the High-Level Committee on Programmes. Ryder was thanked by the UN chief for promoting effective collaboration across the United Nations system on water and sanitation issues.
IFAD is a specialised agency of the UN that was established as an international financial institution in 1977 in response to the food crises of the early 1970s that primarily affected the Sahelian countries of Africa. Working with rural people, governments, donors, non-governmental organisations and many other partners, IFAD invests in long-term development in rural areas where 80 percent of the poorest people live.