Director-general of the International Labour Organization (ILO) since October 2022—and the first African to hold this position—Gilbert F. Houngbo has spent more than 35 years working to improve the lives of the world’s most vulnerable people, using his extensive experience in political affairs, international development, diplomacy and financial management. In 2021, he accepted invitations both to join the board of the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture and to chair NRGI’s governing board.
From 2013 to 2017 Houngbo held the position of deputy director-general for field operations and partnerships at the ILO. In 2017 he was elected as president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, a post to which he was re-elected in 2021. Houngbo is also chair of UN-Water, which coordinates the efforts of with more than 30 UN entities and 40 international organizations active on water and sanitation.
Born and raised in Togo, Houngbo has an advanced degree in business management from the University of Lomé, Togo and a degree in accounting and finance from the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières. He worked for Price Waterhouse Canada from 1986 through 1993, and joined the United Nations Development Programme, where he held several posts including assistant secretary-general and regional director for Africa. From 2008 to 2012, Houngbo served as prime minister of the Togolese Republic.