Kandeh K. Yumkella, born July 5, 1959, was appointed Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in December 2005, and reconfirmed for a second four-year term in office in December 2009. Prior to joining UNIDO he had served as Minister of Trade, Industry and State Enterprises of the Republic of Sierra Leone and as an Assistant Professor and Lecturer at Michigan State University. Mr. Yumkella holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Illinois, a M.Sc. Agricultural Economics, Cornell University and a B.Sc. General Agriculture, Njala University College, Sierra Leone.
As a leader in international development cooperation for over 20 years, Kandeh Yumkella is a strong believer that the most effective way to fight poverty is to strengthen the productive capacities of countries and people, enhance their adaptive capabilities to use modern technology, and to commercialize new knowledge. He facilitated high-level policy dialogue, consensus-building, global advocacy and diplomatic negotiations at conferences of Heads of State, including the African Union, the Conference of African Ministers of Industry (CAMI), and United Nations global conferences.
Under his leadership as Director-General, UNIDO has maintained a role as the largest provider of trade-related technical assistance to developing countries in the United Nations system. This assistance has enabled many developing countries to produce and export goods meeting international standards. Mr. Yumkella has also consistently championed the cause of cleaner production and strengthened the role of UNIDO as the second largest implementing agency in the United Nations system in helping countries to phase out ozone depleting substances under the Montreal Protocol. He also continues to provide leadership in deepening the programmatic and management reforms that have made UNIDO a model of reform in the United Nations system.
In recognition of his leadership and passion for energy and environment-related causes, Kandeh Yumkella was appointed Chairman of UN-Energy in 2008 by the United Nations Secretary-General, bringing together all United Nations organizations dealing with energy issues. As its Chairman, Mr. Yumkella brought a renewed and vital focus on global energy issues and helped coordinate the United Nations response to energy issues. He also chaired the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change (AGECC), 2008-2010 and played a leading international role in identifying the need to increase energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy options in order to deal with the climate change challenge and realize the Millennium Development Goals.
In September 2011, Mr. Yumkella was appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General as Co-Chair of the High-level Group on Sustainable Energy for All, following a decision by the United Nations General Assembly to designate 2012 as the International Year for Sustainable Energy for All. In this function he helps guide the initiative aimed at highlighting the need for universal access to energy as well as increased energy efficiency and enhanced deployment of renewable sources of energy. This again led to the European Union’s energy access initiative and strong political commitment to facilitate developing countries’ access to sustainable energy and to build resilient, competitive and clean energy economies of the future.
Mr. Yumkella has participated actively in global leadership and consensus building. He has delivered key policy speeches at numerous international fora and events concerning industrial development, global trade, energy and global climate change issues. He is a member of the World Economic Forum and a prominent public speaker, whose opinions have appeared in major international media such as The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, and The Guardian. He has also appeared on international broadcast networks such as CNN's Amanpour programme, BBC, Sky News and CNBC. Moreover, he has been honored with many international awards, distinctions and recognitions.