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Alicia Bárcena

Alicia Bárcena Ibarra
Secretary of Foreign Affairs
Assumed office
3 July 2023
PresidentAndrés Manuel López Obrador
Preceded byMarcelo Ebrard
Ambassador of Mexico to Chile
In office
30 September 2022 – 30 June 2023
PresidentAndrés Manuel López Obrador
Preceded byFrancisco Olavarría Patiño
Succeeded byLaura Moreno Rodríguez
Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean
In office
1 July 2008 – 31 March 2022
Secretary-GeneralBan Ki-moon
António Guterres
Preceded byJosé Luis Machinea
Succeeded byJosé Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs
Personal details
Born (1952-03-05) 5 March 1952 (age 72)
Mexico City, Mexico
Alma materNational Autonomous University of Mexico (BS)
Harvard University (MPA)

Alicia Isabel Adriana Bárcena Ibarra (born 5 March 1952) is a Mexican biologist currently serving as her country's Secretary of Foreign Affairs. She previously served as the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) from July 2008 to March 2022.

Early life and education

Bárcena 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.


Early beginnings

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

Bárcena 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.

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

Within the realm of academia, Bárcena 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 as for example on the online magazine Impakter.[1]

Career with the United Nations

From 1995, Bárcena 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).

Until 2006, Bárcena 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.

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.[2] Her appointment marked the first time since 1992 that this position was not been held by a U.S. citizen.[3]

Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), 2008–2022

In 2008, Ban announced Bárcena's appointment as Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC); she replaced José Luis Machinea. Her term concluded on 31 March 2022. [4]

From 2014 until 2015, Bárcena served on the Secretary-General's Independent Expert Advisory Group on the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development, co-chaired by Enrico Giovannini and Robin Li.[5] In 2016, she 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.[6] From 2016 until 2017, she co-chaired (alongside Janez Potočnik) the International Resource Panel at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).[7]

Ambassador to Chile, 2022–2023

In September 2022, Bárcena was confirmed as Mexico's ambassador to Chile.[8]

Later that month, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced his plans to nominate Bárcena to succeed Mauricio Claver-Carone as head of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).[9] By November 2022, Bárcena had spoken with López Obrador to withdraw her nomination "for personal reasons";[10] instead, López Obrador nominated Gerardo Esquivel for the position.[11]

Other activities


  1. ^ Bárcena Ibarra, Alicia (2017-02-20). "Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns: A New Avenue For Economic Development". Impakter. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  2. ^ "The Biography of Alicia Bárcena Ibarra". United Nations. Archived from the original on 2020-05-05. Retrieved 2007-01-04.
  3. ^ Julia Preston (4 January 2007), Mexican U.N. Insider Gets Manager's Post The New York Times.
  4. ^ Alicia Bárcena Concluded Her Mandate as Executive Secretary of ECLAC after Nearly 14 Years at its Helm CEPAL, press release of 31 March 2022.
  5. ^ Independent Expert Advisory Group Members The UN Secretary General's Independent Expert Advisory Group on a Data Revolution for Sustainable Development.
  6. ^ High Level Panel on the Future of the Development Assistance Committee, Development Assistance Committee.
  7. ^ UNEP Welcomes Alicia Bárcena Ibarra as New Co Chair of Expert Panel on Natural Resources United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), press release of 8 June 2016.
  8. ^ Diego Ore and Cassandra Garrison (22 September 2022), Mexico to nominate Alicia Barcena to head Inter-American Development Bank Reuters.
  9. ^ Diego Ore and Cassandra Garrison (22 September 2022), Mexico to nominate Alicia Barcena to head Inter-American Development Bank Reuters.
  10. ^ Andrea Shalal, Dave Graham, Cassandra Garrison and Jorgelina do Rosario (9 November 2022), Mexico nominates central banker Esquivel for IDB presidency, sources say Reuters.
  11. ^ Kylie Madry (11 November 2022), Mexico president confirms nomination of cenbanker Esquivel for IDB chief Reuters.
  12. ^ Board of Directors Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data.
  13. ^ Members of the Panel University of Oslo/ The Lancet Independent Panel on Global Governance for Health.
  14. ^ Global Future Council: The Future of Regional Governance Archived 2018-01-21 at the Wayback Machine World Economic Forum.
  15. ^ Global Future Council on Geopolitics World Economic Forum (WEF).
  16. ^ "Inter-American Dialogue | Alicia Bárcena". Retrieved 2017-03-21.
Political offices Preceded byJosé Luis Machinea Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean 2008–2022 Vacant
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Alicia Bárcena
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