“We are thrilled and so fortunate to welcome Gilbert as our chair after a rigorous global search,” said Smita Singh, interim chair of NRGI’s governing board.
Houngbo is currently serving his second term as the president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), where he has overseen responses to rural poverty and hunger, tackling climate and environmental challenges, gender inequality, and the concerns of Indigenous Peoples. He served as the prime minister of Togo from 2008 to 2012, during which time the country joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative.
Houngbo has also had a distinguished career in the United Nations, having served as deputy director-general of the International Labour Organization, as well as assistant secretary general and the Africa director of the UN Development Programme. At UNDP, Houngbo was involved in supporting the governments of resource-rich countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone, in their negotiations with large private sector corporations.
Houngbo will take up his role as chair of the NRGI board effective March 2022.
“The global competition for scarce minerals and the decline of the oil and gas sector are meeting the hard realities of resource dependence and the need for revenues to address urgent social priorities in developing countries,” said Singh. “For these reasons NRGI seeks to reshape the resource governance agenda. Gilbert has shown great skill in bringing together key players, from the powerful to the voiceless, to create solutions to the most pressing development challenges. NRGI, as a convener of decision makers and constituencies, can learn much from Gilbert’s experience and perspective. His demonstrated ability to lead organizations through strategic evolutions in response to changing global dynamics will serve NRGI very well in the years to come.”
“It will be my pleasure and privilege to lead the board at NRGI,” Houngbo said. “NRGI shaped resource governance as we know it and is well positioned to evolve the field further. From its emerging work on an equitable energy transition, to ensuring inclusive, sustainable development in resource-rich countries, NRGI’s applied expertise and ambitious research are more important now than ever. I look forward to helping the board, together with staff and management, innovate new ways to achieve NRGI’s crucial mission.”
“My fellow NRGI board members and I are elated to welcome Gilbert as our chair and to gain the benefit of his extensive experience as a diplomat, a head of state and a leader in international development,” said Sean Hinton, an NRGI board member who led the chair search.
NRGI aims to secure a future where countries rich in oil, gas and minerals achieve sustainable, equitable and inclusive development. The organization’s 80 economists, lawyers, governance specialists and support staff operate in more than a dozen resource-rich countries in Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, Eurasia, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia-Pacific.
“Gilbert passionately believes that good governance in the extractive industries is essential for sustainable development and a just energy transition,” said NRGI president and CEO Suneeta Kaimal. “With his demonstrated track record in pursuing equity and fairness across Africa and globally, Gilbert is both an inspiration to us as well as a major asset to our cause at this critical juncture.”
Houngbo succeeds President Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico, who served as NRGI’s board chair from 2013 until 2020.
Singh, an NRGI board member since 2006, became the interim chair in 2020 and will remain an NRGI board member after Houngbo joins and assumes the chair role.
“Smita has been a thought partner, ambassador and strategic thinker helping to guide NRGI through the coronavirus pandemic, the formulation and evolution of our new strategy and major organizational pivots,” Kaimal added. “We are grateful for her continued support as Gilbert joins us.”
For more information:
Natural Resource Governance Institute [email protected]
+44 (0)7823 442 954