UNITED NATIONS - Shamshad Akhtar, a former Pakistan State Bank Governor, has been appointed as the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, the world body's regional development arm headquartered in Bangkok, it was announced here on Tuesday.

Ms. Akhtar, 59, will replace Noeleen Heyzer of Singapore. 

Since 2012, Shamshad Akhtar has served as the UN Secretary-General’s Senior Adviser on Economic Development and Finance and Assistant Secretary-General, Department of Economic and Social Affairs. She brings to the position over 30 years of broad experience as a seasoned economist with an impressive track record of policymaking and implementation in the economic, development and finance fields both at the country and regional level.

She brings with her broad Asia experience having advised and structured operations across a number of Asian economies, and been involved in a range of regional cooperation forums including Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). She was rated as one of the top 10 Asian Professional women and won international awards for her exemplary role as Governor of Central Bank in Pakistan. 

In the multinational arena, Shamshad Akhtar served at the World Bank as Vice-President for the Middle East and North Africa (2009-2011) and the Asian Development Bank as Special Senior Adviser to the President (2009),Director and Deputy Director General, South East Asia (2002-2005) as well as Director, Governance, Finance and Trade Division concurrently heading the Secretariat of APEC (1998-2002). 

Born in 1954, Shahmshad Akhtar holds a Post Doctoral Fellow and US Fulbright Scholarship at the Department of Economics, Harvard University (1986-1987); PhD Economics, Scholarship and Degree from the UK Government Council of National Academic Award (1978-1980)and PhD, University of Paisley. She further holds a Masters of Art Degree in Development Economics, University of Sussex (1977), MSc (Economics), University of Islamabad (1975) and Bachelor of Arts (Economics), University of Punjab (1972-1974).

Made up of 53 Member States and 9 Associate Members, with a geographical scope that stretches from Turkey in the west to the Pacific island nation of Kiribati in the east, and from the Russian Federation in the north to New Zealand in the south, the ESCAP region is home to 4.1 billion people, or two thirds of the world’s population.

This makes ESCAP the most comprehensive of the United Nations five regional commissions, and the largest United Nations body serving the Asia-Pacific region with over 600 staff.