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New EMF Co-Chair-Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General, UNCTAD

On 19 March 2024, we met the Secretary-General of UNCTAD, Rebeca Grynspan at their headquarters in Geneva. Mrs. Grynspan confirmed to us that she was delighted to become one of our co-chairs. We had an interesting discussion and exchange of ideas on the tentative agenda of our 17th Global Meeting to be held in Washington DC from 22 to 24 October 2024. She also shared with us her main concerns regarding trade and investment issues.

L to R: Sylvie Naville, Harinder Kohli, and Rebeca Grynspan

Rebeca Grynspan of Costa Rica was appointed the eighth Secretary-General of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on 13 September 2021. She is the first woman in the history of the institution to hold this position.

She is also coordinator of the task team of the Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance, set up by the United Nations Secretary-General to help support developed and developing countries face the economic shocks related to the war in Ukraine.

Over the course of her career, Ms. Grynspan has held numerous high-level positions. Prior to her appointment at UNCTAD, she was the Secretary-General of the Ibero- American Conference from 2014 to 2021, the first woman to lead the organization. She is also a former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Associate Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, as well as former Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Prior to joining the United Nations, she served as Vice-President of Costa Rica from 1994 to 1998. She also held the positions of Minister of Housing, Minister Coordinator of Economic and Social Affairs and Deputy Finance Minister.

She is currently a member of the Group of 20 High-level Independent Panel on Financing the Global Commons for Pandemic Preparedness and Response.

A renowned advocate of human development, Ms. Grynspan has helped to focus the world’s attention on relevant issues such as the reduction of inequality and poverty, gender equality, South–South cooperation as a tool for development and achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

She was also a delegate to the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, a group consisting of the Government of Haiti, former President of the United States of America Bill Clinton and other prominent international partners.

In 2014, she was appointed chair of the Board of Trustees of the International Institute for Environment and Development, a leading global organization at the forefront of development and environmental policy research.

Ms. Grynspan is a former member of the Governing Council of the Society for International Development, a global network of individuals and professionals at the forefront of development, former trustee of the Complutense Institute for International Studies of the Complutense University of Madrid and, in 2021, appointed Special International Adviser to the newly created Economic and Social Council of Argentina, by the President of Argentina.

She is a former member of the International Labour Organization’s Global Commission on the Future of Work and of the Advisory Board of the Expansión International Economic Forum 2021.

In addition to her experience as a conference lecturer and adviser to a number of international organizations and institutions, she has been actively involved in key United Nations initiatives, such as the Millennium Project’s task force on poverty and economic development and the high-level panel on financing for development. In 2014 and 2015, she was recognized as one of the 50 leading intellectuals of Latin America.

In 2019, the Government of Spain granted her the highest honour awarded to a civilian, the Grand Cross of the Order of Alfonso X the Wise and, in 2021, the President of Portugal awarded her the Grand Cross of the Order of the Infante Don Henrique. In 2020 she received the Aquí Europa-Vocento Award as a Latin American personality for her outstanding contribution to strengthening Europe-Latin America relations.

She was recognized as one of the 100 most powerful women in Central America by Forbes magazine in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 and, in 2017, she received the Forbes Award for Excellence. In 2020 she received the Gumersindo de Azcárate Award and the Woman of the Year Award from the association Women in a Legal World.

Ms. Grynspan holds a degree in economics from the University of Costa Rica and a master’s degree in economics from the University of Sussex. She was awarded a Doctorate honoris causa each by the University of Salamanca, the University of Extremadura and the European University of Madrid, in recognition of her outstanding professional achievements.