Alicia Bárcena Ibarra

Mexican biologist Alicia Bárcena Ibarra is Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Mexican biologist, renowned in international environmental forums.

Alicia Bárcena Ibarra has been the executive secretary of the Latin America Economic Commission (CEPAL, for its Spanish acronym) since 2008. CEPAL is one of the most credible United Nations institutions in the region. Particularly through the Sustainable Development and Human Settlements Division and the Natural Resources and Infrastructure Division, CEPAL has played a fundamentally important role in the region by formulating and applying policies, strategies and regulations in the areas of sustainable development and distribution of natural resources, among other contributions. Previously, Bárcena Ibarra served as chief of the Environmental and Human Settlements Division and later as chief of the Joint Cabinet of the Executive Office of the CEPAL Secretary General until March 3, 2006, when United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan named her his chief of staff.

She has broad international experience, having held various posts in the United Nations Environmental Program and the United Nations Development Program. She was also the director of the National Fish Institute and Ecology Undersecretary for the government of Mexico. Bárcena Ibarra has degrees in biology and a master’s degree in ecology, both from the Autonomous University of Mexico, as well as a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University.

She was also the founding director of the Land Council in Costa Rica, an organization charged with following up the treaties agreed to at the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992. Related to that experience, Bárcena Ibarra worked as the lead official on Agenda 21, the first United Nations program to deal with issues of sustainable development and global climate change. These initiatives were aimed at gaining the commitments of governments and industries, at the international, regional and local levels, to reduce human impacts on the environment.

In the academic arena, Bárcena Ibarra has been the director of the Southeast Center of the National Institute for Biotic Research in the state of Yucatan, Mexico. There she worked closely with Mayan communities in the region, as well as experts in botany, entomology and ecology. She is also the author of various articles related to sustainable development and financing, public policy, the environment, and public participation.

Author: Harrison Flores Ortiz
Published: June 06, 2012.

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