The Secretary-General appoints Noeleen Heyzer of Singapore as Special Adviser for Timor-Leste

United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, today announced the appointment of Noeleen Heyzer of Singapore, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and current Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), as his Special Adviser for Timor-Leste. Dr. Heyzer will carry out the responsibilities of both roles concurrently.

ESCAP Executive Secretary and Special Adviser of the Secretary-General to Timor-Leste at the Development for All Conference, Dili, Timor-Leste, February 2013

She will work closely with the Government of Timor-Leste, the United Nations Resident Coordinator, and United Nations Country Team, to support the continuing efforts of Timor-Leste towards peace-building, state-building, and inclusive and sustainable development.

In this regard, Dr. Heyzer will also contribute to further strengthening the ongoing partnership between the Government of Timor-Leste and the United Nations, to deepen regional cooperation, and improve the lives of all people in the country.

ESCAP Executive Secretary and Special Adviser of the Secretary-General to Timor-Leste, Dr. Noeleen Heyzer and H.E. Mr. Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, Prime Minister of Timor-Leste

Dr. Heyzer’s extensive experience of Timorese development challenges began in her former role as Head of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), where she worked closely with the Government, local Timorese women’s groups, and rural communities to address issues of women’s political participation, violence against women, and gender inequality, amidst the legacy of conflict in the country.

Since being appointed by the Secretary-General in August 2007, as the first woman to hold the position of Executive Secretary, Dr. Heyzer has positioned ESCAP, the regional development arm of the United Nations, as a comprehensive platform for promoting regional co-operation among member States, to achieve inclusive and sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific.

She has particularly championed the special needs of small islands developing states and least developed countries, such as Timor-Leste, and has focused on ensuring that the priorities of the bottom 1.5 billion people, living in vulnerable situations, are at the heart of the regional and global post-2015 development agenda.

Dr. Heyzer with Timorese women and girls in the remote mountain village of Mauxiga

Under her leadership, ESCAP has prioritized the building of capacity in member States, and enhanced regional cooperation on key issues such as regional connectivity and ICT, employment generation and sustainable development, fair trade and ethical investment, financial stability, food, water and energy security, as well as social development.

ESCAP also supported the Government of Timor-Leste’s hosting, in February this year, of the landmark Development for All conference in Dili, which saw more than 400 leaders and policy-makers, from more than fifty Pacific island states and fragile and conflict-affected countries around the world, participating in a key global development consultation.

In a region of relatively high growth, challenged by growing inequalities and persistent poverty, Dr. Heyzer’s vision is of a more resilient Asia-Pacific, founded on social equity and shared prosperity, empowered by the creativity of its people, and valuing the gifts of the planet.