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GEF Council Names Dr. Naoko Ishii New GEF CEO

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Unanimous decision follows months-long worldwide search process


WASHINGTON, June 7, 2012 – The governing Council of the Global Environment Facility today named Dr. Naoko Ishii of Japan to be the CEO and Chairperson of the GEF, choosing a senior official in Japan's Ministry of Finance with extensive experience in international institutions and global environmental issues.

The GEF Council's unanimous decision followed a months-long worldwide search process involving consideration of scores of candidates to head of the world's largest public funder of international programs to benefit the global environment. The Council is a representative body of delegates appointed from among the GEF's 182 member nations.

"The Council enthusiastically congratulates Naoko Ishii on her selection as GEF CEO and Chairperson," said Jozef Buys, Co-chairman of the GEF Council and Council member from Belgium. "The Council fully understands that this is a critical position at a critical time for the global environment, and we firmly believe that Naoko will energetically direct and enhance the work of the GEF."

Dr. Ishii is currently the Deputy Vice Minister of Finance and the Executive Assistant to the Prime Minister for Global Environmental Finance, the Government of Japan. With today's decision, she will become on August 1st the fourth CEO of the GEF, succeeding Monique Barbut of France, who departs at the conclusion of her second term as head of the GEF.

"I am honored to be the GEF Council's choice to head this unique organization with such a vital mission," Dr. Ishii said upon being informed of her selection. 

She added: "In this decade, the world will make decisions that will determine whether we succeed or fail in the quest to protect vital ecosystems, while raising the quality of life for all citizens. The GEF must play an important role in catalyzing transformational change in the way the global environment is managed. It must continue to be an honest champion of global commons, a convener of global and local leaders, a tireless promoter of innovative ideas, and a leader in results-focused investments".

Dr. Ishii congratulated Ms. Barbut on the successful completion of her second term as GEF CEO and Chairperson, recognizing her role in scaling up GEF programs while greatly improving operational efficiency.

Ms. Barbut, who became GEF CEO in 2006, wished Dr. Ishii well in her new post and expressed confidence in the continued sound management of the GEF.

"I know Dr. Ishii well from her work with the GEF on behalf of the Government of Japan, and I am confident that this important institution is in good hands going forward," said Barbut. "The GEF depends on close and cooperative working relationships with our member states and on the careful management of increasingly scarce public funds. Dr. Ishii has a proven track record in both these areas, and her extensive experience in international institutions will serve the GEF well."

Dr. Ishii brings to the GEF three decades of international experience in development, finance and global environmental issues. In her current post at Japan's Ministry of Finance, she provides oversight of Japanese development policies on Multilateral Development Banks, as well as global environmental funds including the GEF, the Climate Investment Funds, the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, and the Forest Carbon Partnership Fund. She represented the Japanese Government on the Transitional Committee responsible for designing Green Climate Fund.

Mr. Henry Djombo, the Minister of Forest Economy and Environment of the Republic of Congo, said of Dr. Ishii's appointment. "The GEF has a vital role to play in addressing Africa's environmental challenges. I am delighted that Naoko will take this important job. She brings a wealth of relevant experience, and I am confident that under her leadership the GEF can become even more effective during this critical decade." 

According to Jose Antonio Meade, Minister of Finance and Public Credit for Mexico and head of the G20's finance track, "The appointment of Dr. Ishii is good news for the global environment. Her experience in development, environment, finance, and on the front line as a 'doer,' as well as in the field of policy, will serve the GEF very well at this critical moment of unparallel challenges."

Prior to her appointment as Deputy Vice Minister of Finance, Dr. Ishii served as the World Bank's Country Director for Sri Lanka and Maldives, stationed in Colombo. Her tenure in Sri Lanka coincided with the final phase of that country's protracted armed conflict. In that role she developed a conflict sensitive approach and formed a coalition among a wide range of stakeholders. Over the course of a 30-year career, Dr. Ishii has spent half of that time in various high impact institutions including the World Bank, the IMF and Harvard Institute for International Development. She has also held increasingly senior positions throughout her career in the Japanese Ministry of Finance.

Dr. Ishii has a number of books and academic papers to her credit including Empirical Analysis on Modern Economic Growth: Institutions Critical to Sustainable Economic Growth, published in Japan. She has been awarded the Okita Memorial Prize for International Development Research.

In naming Dr. Ishii to the CEO position, the GEF Council, gathering in Washington this week for the first of its twice-yearly meetings, accepted the recommendation of its Selection and Review Committee (SRC), which ranked her first among three finalists for the position. In its report to the full Council, the SRC noted Dr. Ishii's well-established reputation in the international development and environment communities, her well articulated view on the institution's future role, her awareness of the challenges confronting the GEF, and her collaborative and diplomatic approach to addressing global concerns.

Mr. John Diamond
Senior Communication Officer | Spokesperson
Phone +1 202 458 7953

Press Release No:06072012


About the Global Environment Facility
The GEF unites 182 countries in partnership with international institutions, civil society organizations (CSOs), and the private sector to address global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives. Today the GEF is the largest public funder of projects to improve the global environment. An independently operating financial organization, the GEF provides grants for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants.
Since 1991, the GEF has achieved a strong track record with developing countries and countries with economies in transition, providing $10.5 billion in grants and leveraging $51 billion in co-financing for over 2,700 projects in over 165 countries. Through its Small Grants Programme (SGP), the GEF has also made more than 14,000 small grants directly to civil society and community based organizations, totaling $634 million. For more information, visit

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