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Head of UN food agency to step down after five years of service

Article / Review by on January 3, 2012 – 8:56 pmNo Comments

Head of UN food agency to step down after five years of service

WFP Executive Director Josette SheeranWFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran

The head of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) announced today that she will step down after five years at the helm of the Rome-based agency.

During her mandate as Executive Director of WFP, Josette Sheeran led the agency in helping victims of conflict and natural disasters in over 70 countries worldwide, according to a statement released by her office.

Ms. Sheeran also oversaw the agency’s “transformation from food aid to food assistance,” with WFP now buying 80 per cent of its food from the developing world and using tools such as mobile telephones and vouchers to help deliver food assistance.

“It has been a deep honour to serve the world in this role and to help not only save lives but to transform the face of food aid, to empower lasting hunger solutions,” said Ms. Sheeran.

In a statement released by his spokesperson, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed his appreciation for Ms. Sheeran’s leadership, saying she was “an outstanding advocate for the United Nations and a champion of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.”

Under Ms. Sheeran’s leadership, WFP increased its donor base to more than 100 nations – including members of the so-called BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) – while also bringing in the private sector as one of the agency’s top 10 overall donors.

Ms. Sheeran will move on to assume the role of Vice Chairman of the World Economic Forum, an independent organization best known for its annual gathering in January in Davos, Switzerland, that brings together government ministers, business leaders and others.


WFP Executive Director Assumes Role At World Economic Forum
Josette Sheeran, Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), will assume a role as Vice Chairman of the World Economic Forum, the world’s leading platform for engaging corporate and government leaders in solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.

03 January 2012, ROME— Sheeran, who will assume her new position in April at the conclusion of her current term as Executive Director,  has led the World Food Programme since 2007, helping victims of conflict and natural disasters in over 70 countries.  During her tenure, she oversaw the agency’s transformation from food aid to food assistance, where WFP buys 80 percent of its food in the developing world and uses new tools including mobile phones and vouchers to deliver assistance.

“There are no words to describe the respect, admiration and love I have for WFP, its people and mission,” said Sheeran. “It has been a deep honour to serve the world in this role and to help not only save lives but to transform the face of food aid, to empower lasting hunger solutions.”

Sheeran has served on the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum and has also chaired the Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Food Security and is a member of the Forum’s Global Issues Group, composed of the heads of major multilateral organizations.

Multi-stakeholder dialogue

“Josette Sheeran has shown in her career, especially as Executive Director of the WFP, a true commitment to address major global issues in a visionary and pragmatic way. She has won the trust of global decision-makers across the spectrum of politics, business and civil society,” said Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum. “Her appointment underlines the commitment of the World Economic Forum to furthering multi-stakeholder dialogue.”

“This leadership role at the Forum will allow me to help forge new entrepreneurial approaches to the great global challenges of our time and to work with leaders in business, governments and civil society in seeking sustainable solutions,” said Sheeran. “Klaus Schwab has built a vital platform to bring together the world to address the world’s most complex and interconnected global social challenges – from the financial and food crises to opportunities for sustainable growth.

Lives and livelihoods

Under her leadership, WFP has  increased its donor base to more than 100 nations – including the BRIC nations as major donors and the Gulf States and brought the private sector to one of WFP’s top ten donors .  She has put in place new emergency protocols that have helped the institution improve its ability to save lives and livelihoods in disasters and emergencies, most recently in Haiti and Pakistan and in 2011 scaling up response to the historic drought in the Horn of Africa.

Josette Sheeran has held major public leadership positions for more than a decade. In addition to her work on food security and humanitarian leadership, she is consulted broadly by global leaders for her expertise in international economic and trade issues, governance reforms, international business best practices and change management. Her work has been recognized internationally,  including receiving  Brazil’s highest civilian recognition and in 2011 Forbes Magazine ranked her 30 on their annual 100 Most Powerful Women list.

In addition to her WFP leadership, Sheeran is the Chair of the UN High-Level Committee on Management. Under her tenure, she  helped lead major reform efforts, such as the introduction of  International Public Accounting Standards, the overhaul of the UN security system and  a major initiative to share best practices on efficiency and effectiveness. She is also a member of the UN Development Group and the UN High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Crisis.


About United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)

Fighting hunger worldwide United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Logo

The World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide.

“In emergencies, we get food to where it is needed, saving the lives of victims of war, civil conflict and natural disasters. After the cause of an emergency has passed, we use food to help communities rebuild their shattered lives.”

WFP is part of the United Nations system and is voluntarily funded.

Born in 1961, WFP pursues a vision of the world in which every man, woman and child has access at all times to the food needed for an active and healthy life. We work towards that vision with our sister UN agencies in Rome — the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) — as well as other government, UN and NGO partners.

In 2011 we aim to reach more than 90 million people with food assistance in more than 70 countries. Around 10,000 people work for the organization, most of them in remote areas, directly serving the hungry poor.

WFP’s five objectives:

  1. Save lives and protect livelihoods in emergencies
  2. Prepare for emergencies
  3. Restore and rebuild lives after emergencies
  4. Reduce chronic hunger and undernutrition everywhere
  5. Strengthen the capacity of countries to reduce hunger

WFP’s Mission statement

WFP is the food aid arm of the United Nations system. Food aid is one of the many instruments that can help to promote food security, which is defined as access of all people at all times to the food needed for an active and healthy life. ¹ The policies governing the use of World Food Programme food aid must be oriented towards the objective of eradicating hunger and poverty. The ultimate objective of food aid should be the elimination of the need for food aid.

Targeted interventions are needed to help to improve the lives of the poorest people – people who, either permanently or during crisis periods, are unable to produce enough food or do not have the resources to otherwise obtain the food that they and their households require for active and healthy lives.

Consistent with its mandate, which also reflects the principle of universality, WFP will continue to:

  • use food aid to support economic and social development;
  • meet refugee and other emergency food needs, and the associated logistics support; and
  • promote world food security in accordance with the recommendations of the United Nations and FAO.

The core policies and strategies that govern WFP activities are to provide food aid:

  • to save lives in refugee and other emergency situations;
  • to improve the nutrition and quality of life of the most vulnerable people at critical times in their lives; and
  • to help build assets and promote the self-reliance of poor people and communities, particularly through labour-intensive works programmes.

Share food, change lives


> United Nations (UN).

The General Assembly in session. Photo credit: UN / Eskinder Debebe The United Nations was established on 24 October 1945 by 51 countries committed to preserving peace through international cooperation and collective security. Today, nearly every nation in the world belongs to the UN: membership totals 192 countries.

When States become Members of the United Nations, they agree to accept the obligations of the UN Charter, an international treaty that sets out basic principles of international relations. According to the Charter, the UN has four purposes:

  • to maintain international peace and security;
  • to develop friendly relations among nations;
  • to cooperate in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights;
  • and to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations.


* The above story is adapted from materials provided by United Nations (UN)
** More information at United Nations (UN)

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