Ms. Lakshmi Puri is Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. She is directly responsible for the leadership and management of the Bureau for Intergovernmental Support, United Nations Coordination, and Strategic Partnerships.
Ms. Puri joined UN Women in March 2011, shortly after its creation. As a member of the senior leadership team, she actively contributed to the institutional development and consolidation of the entity, shaping its first Strategic Plan and positioning it as the leading organization for the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment globally. She steered UN Women’s engagement in major intergovernmental processes, such as the Rio+20 conference. She coordinated preparations for the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, which saw the adoption of a historic agreement on ending and preventing violence against women. She also led efforts to build strategic partnerships, particularly with civil society and women’s organizations, and oversaw the adoption and implementation of UN system-wide accountability and coherence systems for gender equality and women’s empowerment. She acted as the interim head of UN Women from March to August 2013.
Throughout her career, Ms. Puri has promoted the gender equality and women’s empowerment agenda in various capacities in the context of peace and security, human rights and sustainable development. She has extensive experience in economic and development policy-making covering trade, investment, migration and labour mobility, financial flows, environment and climate change, energy, agriculture and food security, universal access to essential services, intellectual property rights, and traditional knowledge, among other issues.
Prior to joining UN Women, Ms. Puri was the Director of the UN Office of the High
Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, where she coordinated the preparations for the fourth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries which resulted in major outcomes, including the Istanbul Programme of Action and Political Declaration.
Ms. Puri joined the United Nations in 2002 as Director of the largest division at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the Division of International Trade in Goods, Services and Commodities. From 2007 to 2009, she served as UNCTAD’s Acting Deputy Secretary-General, providing strategic direction and oversight to the organization. She made an imprint on two major UNCTAD conferences in Brazil in 2004 and in Ghana in 2008. At UNCTAD, Ms. Puri also ensured that gender considerations were effectively mainstreamed in the trade and development agenda.
Ms. Puri joined the United Nations after a distinguished 28-year career with the Indian Foreign Service, where she held the rank of Permanent Secretary of the Government of India. As Ambassador of India to Hungary, concurrently accredited to Bosnia and Herzegovina, she worked closely with the UN Special Representative of the Secretary- General in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Indian peacekeeping contingent, the largest in the Balkans. She also played an important role as a member of the Indian diplomatic team in brokering the Indo-Sri Lankan peace agreement in 1987 to end the country’s ethnic conflict and was involved in several aspects of the Indian peacekeeping operations and peace-building efforts that followed.
Ms. Puri’s work with the UN dates back to 1981, when she was a delegate to the Commission on Human Rights where she was involved in the negotiation of some key human rights conventions, notably during her postings in Geneva including as Deputy Permanent Representative. She dealt with a range of UN specialized agencies, as well as the World Trade Organization (GATT/WTO).
She has a Bachelor of Arts (honours) from Delhi University and a postgraduate degree from Punjab University, as well as professional diplomas. She studied history, public policy and administration, international relations and law, and economic development. Ms. Puri has contributed to policy-related research at think tanks and academic institutions and has been on the board of public policy institutions and companies.
Ms. Puri is married and has two daughters.
Claire Fehrenbach is a graduate of the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Toulouse and holds two Masters related to international solidarity on the one hand, and sustainable development and social responsibility of companies on the other. She has been working for 15 years in the field of development and international solidarity in France and abroad.
Since 2000, she has held positions of director, operational coordinator and country director with Atlas Logistique and Handicap International in Albania, Gabon and Angola on emergency and reconstruction issues. Alternating between headquarters and field positions, she has been involved in public funding for Médecins du Monde in Paris and, ran a few years ago Handicap International Canada.
As part of a research on the impact of multinationals in the South, she conducted a study relating in particular to the analysis of societal performance of a large French company. She teaches courses for several years with Master level students on topics relating to these professional experiences. Claire became head of Oxfam France in 2014. In addition to the campaign and advocacy activities in France on topics such as the transformation of the food system, the fight against inequality, rights in crisis, it bears the Oxfam confederation all the values. This year, because of the COP 21 to be held in Paris, Claire Fehrenbach and the whole structure Oxfam France, largely focused its activities against climate change, both in terms of mitigation and adaptation.
Detrimental effects of climate change can be felt in the short-term through natural hazards, such as landslides, floods and hurricanes; and in the long-term, through more gradual degradation of the environment.
The adverse effects of these events are already felt in many areas, including in relation to, inter alia, agriculture and food security; biodiversity and ecosystems; water resources; human health; human settlements and migration patterns; and energy, transport and industry.
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