Rebeca Grynspan, of Costa Rica, was appointed the eighth Secretary-General of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on 13 September 2021. She is the first woman to hold this position in the history of the organization. Over the course of her career, Ms. Grynspan has held numerous high-level positions. Prior to her UNCTAD appointment, she was the Secretary-General of the Ibero-American Conference from 2014 to 2021, the first woman to lead the organization. She is also a former Under Secretary-General of the UN and Associate Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), and a former Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. Prior to joining the UN, she served as Vice President of Costa Rica from 1994 to 1998. She also held the positions of Minister of Housing, Minister Coordinator of Economic and Social Affairs and Deputy Finance Minister. In addition, she was a member of the High-Level Panel on Financing for Development.
A renowned advocate of human development, Ms. Grynspan has helped to focus the world’s attention on relevant issues such as the reduction of inequality and poverty, gender equality, South-South cooperation as a tool for development, and the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, among others. She was also a delegate to the UN Commission for the Reconstruction of Haiti, a group consisting of the Haitian Government, the former President of the United States, Bill Clinton, and other prominent international partners. In 2014 she was appointed chair of the Board of Trustees of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), a leading global organization at the forefront of development and environmental policy research.
Secretary-General of UNCTAD from 13 September 2021 Ms. Grynspan is a former member of the Governing Council of the Society for International Development (SID), a global network of individuals and professionals at the forefront of development, former trustee of the Complutense Institute for International Studies (ICEI), of the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, and, prior in 2021 a Special International Advisor to the newly created Economic and Social Council of Argentina, appointed by the President of Argentina. She was a former member of the International Labor Organization’s Global Commission on the Future of Work; and a member of the Advisory Board of the Expansión International Economic Forum 2021. In addition to her experience as a conference lecturer and advisor to a number of international organizations and institutions, she has been actively involved in key UN initiatives, such as the Millennium Project’s task force on poverty and economic development and the High-level Panel on Financing for Development. In 2014 and 2015, she was recognized as one of the 50 leading intellectuals of Latin America. In 2019, the Spanish government granted her the highest honor awarded to a civilian, the Gran Cruz de la Orden Civil de Alfonso X El Sabio and in 2021, the President of Portugal awarded her the Grã Cruz da Ordem do Infante D. Henrique in 2021.
In 2020 she received the Aquí Europa-Vocento Award as a Latin American personality for her outstanding contribution to strengthening Europe-Latin America relations. She was recognized as one of the 100 most powerful women in Central America by Forbes magazine in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, and in 2017 she received the Forbes Award for Excellence. In 2020 she received the Gumersindo de Azcarate Award and the Woman of the Year Award from the Women in a Legal World Association.
Ms. Grynspan holds a degree in economics from the University of Costa Rica and a master’s degree in economics from the University of Sussex. She is currently member of the G20 High Level Independent Panel on Financing the Global Commons for Pandemic Preparedness and Response. She was awarded a Doctorate Honoris Causa by the University of Salamanca, the University of Extremadura and the European University of Madrid in recognition of her outstanding professional achievements.