United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP)
On 10 December 2013, Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, a national of Pakistan, was appointed by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and as the tenth Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. She also serves as the United Nations Sherpa for the G20.
Formerly the Secretary-General’s Senior Advisor on Economics and Finance, and Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development at the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, she led the UN-wide coordination of the post-2015 development agenda and related policy and normative work, including supporting work on the Sustainable Financing Strategy.
Ms. Akhtar has previously served as Governor of the Central Bank of Pakistan, and recently also as Vice President of the Middle East and North Africa Region of the World Bank. In her capacity as Governor, Ms. Akhtar was also the Chairperson of the Central Bank Board and its affiliates, as well as a Governor of the IMF. During her term of office, she was recognized for the success of the Bank, which was restructured significantly; the introduction of an analytical framework for monetary policy; and the development of a ten-year vision for the finance industry, with a vibrant structure for the banking sector. For these accomplishments, she won two consecutive awards as Asia’s Best Central Bank Governor from Emerging Markets and from the Banker’s Trust. In 2008, The Wall Street Journal Asia also recognized her as one of the top ten professional women of Asia.
Ms. Akhtar has had a long-standing career with the Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs). In her assignment for the World Bank, she spearheaded the Bank’s response to the Arab Spring, as well as the Arab regional integration strategy and its implementation. She has served in the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for almost 15 years, rising through the ranks from Senior Economist, to attaining the highest professional positions, including as Special Senior Advisor to the President of ADB, and as the Bank’s Director-General of the South-East Asia region. During the Asian financial crisis she also served as ADB’s Coordinator to the APEC Finance Ministers, providing analytical support in a number of economic and social areas for crisis prevention and mitigation, while also leading engagement with the Bank for International Settlement, and other standard-setting bodies.
Ms. Akhtar has worked in several regions and many countries, dealing with fiscal and taxation policy, decentralization, poverty and inequality, financial and monetary policy, industrial and infrastructure policies, as well as governance development. She has also served as a member of the Pakistan Economic Advisory Committee and of the Governing Council of the Pakistan Statistics Bureau. In addition, Ms. Akhtar has advised development agencies on the operationalization of Pakistan’s New Economic Growth Framework, and has also worked on PPP policy frameworks and governance issues.
Ms. Akhtar was a post-doctoral degree US Fulbright Fellow at Harvard University, holds a PhD in Economics from Scotland’s Paisley College of Technology, as well as a Master in Development Economics from the University of Sussex in the UK, and an MSc in Economics from Quaid-e-Azam University, in Islamabad.