Alicia Bárcena Ibarra

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Alicia Bárcena Ibarra
Alicia Bárcena Ibarra, World Economic Forum on Latin America 2009 2.jpg
Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean
Assumed office
1 July 2008
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Preceded by José Luis Machinea
Personal details
Born (1952-03-05) 5 March 1952 (age 66)
Mexico City, Mexico
Alma mater National Autonomous University of Mexico
Harvard University

Alicia Isabel Adriana Bárcena Ibarra is a Mexican biologist who currently serves as the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).


Bárcena Ibarra holds a bachelor's degree in biology from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and a master's degree in public administration from Harvard University.


Bárcena is a former undersecretary of the environment in the federal cabinet and a former director of Mexico's National Institute of Fisheries (Spanish: Instituto Nacional de Pesca).

She collected extensive experience in international organizations. She was Deputy Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) earlier in her career. In this position, she has actively promoted the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals and on Financing for Sustainable Development in Latin America and the Caribbean. Within ECLAC, she also served as the Chief of the Environment and Human Settlements Division, where she focused on public policies for sustainable development with particular reference to the linkages between environment, economy and social issues.

She has acted as Coordinator of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), in charge of a global programme on environmental citizenship with emphasis on the participation of civil society, as well as adviser to the Latin American and Caribbean Sustainable Development Programme in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

She was the Founding Director of the Earth Council in Costa Rica until 1995. The Earth Council is a non-governmental organization in charge of the follow-up of the agreements reached in the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992.

She collaborated in the UNCED Secretariat as Principal Officer in charge of various topics related to Agenda 21.

On 3 March 2006, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced Bárcena's appointment as Acting Chef de Cabinet in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General. Her appointment took effect on 8 December 2005 after the departure of the Deputy Secretary-General, Louise Fréchette, and Mark Malloch Brown’s assumption of his new duties as Deputy Secretary-General.

On 3 January 2007, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Bárcena as UN Under-Secretary-General for Management.[1] Her appointment marked the first time since 1992 that this position has not been held by a U.S. citizen.[2]

Within the realm of academia, she 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.

In 2016, Bárcena was appointed by Erik Solheim, the Chairman of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Development Assistance Committee, to serve on the High Level Panel on the Future of the Development Assistance Committee under the leadership of Mary Robinson.[3]

Other activities[edit]


Political offices
Preceded by
José Luis Machinea
Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean