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Press Release

Dr. Naoko Ishii takes office as CEO & Chairperson of the GEF

August 1, 2012

Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson, Global Environment Facility (GEF)
Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson, Global Environment Facility (GEF)

Innovation and Inclusion at the heart of new Leadership at the GEF

Washington, DC, August 1, 2012 – Dr. Naoko Ishii today assumed office as CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the world's largest public funder of environmental projects. The GEF's  Council in June unanimously selected Dr. Ishii, Deputy Vice Minister of Finance of the Government of Japan, to succeed Monique Barbut, who completed her second term as CEO in July. 

"I begin my tenure at a time when the GEF is ready to shift from being a 'silent partner' in the global environmental community to having a more active voice in sharing the experience and knowledge acquired during 21 years of innovative global environmental project undertakings and to strengthening the coalition of partners in the stewardship of global commons" Dr. Ishii said.

Dr. Ishii asserted that the GEF should continue to lead as an innovator, a champion, the partner of choice in taking on environmental challenges, and as a catalyst for the evolution of environmental finance. She added that the GEF is uniquely placed to bring about the significant changes needed at this time.

"The GEF has established a record of great achievement. Yet the world remains on an unsustainable path and needs new ways to manage the global environment" Dr. Ishii said. "It is urgent and critical to forge trusting and productive partnerships among governments, international partners, the private sector, and civil society organizations."

She emphasized that Finance and Environment ministers need to talk to each other and ensure that environmental concerns are embedded at all levels of policy making. "My focus will be bringing people together to work for our environment. Citizens also need to play their part in solving global environmental threats."

Dr. Ishii said. "My goal is to make the GEF coalition of partners greater than the sum of its parts in order to maximize the impact of the GEF projects and programs on the ground. We are not there yet. Now is the time for us to bring joint efforts up to scale to achieve sustainable results through global and local coalitions."

About the new GEF CEO and Chairperson, Dr. Naoko Ishii

Prior to becoming the fourth CEO and Chairperson of the GEF, Dr. Ishii, as Deputy Vice Minister of Finance, was responsible for Japan’s international financial and development policies, and for its global policies on environmental issues such as climate change and biodiversity. She led the Japanese delegation at the Transition Committee for designing the Green Climate Fund. Dr. Ishii’s career at the Ministry of Finance began in 1981 with a focus on the international sphere, particularly development issues. Later in her career she was Japan’s Director for Bilateral Development Finance (2004-2006) and for coordination with Multilateral Development Banks (2002-04).

For nearly half of her career, Dr. Ishii has served in international assignments outside of Japan, including at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. At the World Bank, Dr. Ishii was the Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives (2006-2010). During that period, while based in Colombo, she managed the World Bank program for Sri Lanka amidst that country’s quarter-century old civil conflict by building partnership among key stakeholders. She also served as the country program coordinator for Vietnam at the World Bank (1997-2001), project manager at Harvard Institute for International Development (1996-1997), economist at the International Monetary Fund (1992-1995) working for Africa and Asia, as well as visiting fellow at Center for International Affairs at Harvard University (1984-1985). 

Dr. Ishii also taught sustainable development and environment at Keio University. She has published numerous papers and several books, two of which were awarded by Suntory Prize (1990) and Okita Memorial Prize for International Development Research (2004). She is the inaugural recipient of the 2006 Enjoji Jiro Memorial Prize. She holds BA and Ph.D. from University of Tokyo.