A BRIEF BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
NARDOS BEKELE-THOMAS is currently the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations (UN) and Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in South Africa.
Prior to this, she served (2016-2017) as the Senior Director of the Office of the Secretary-General, in charge of the overall management of the Office of the Secretary-General, the Office of the Chef de Cabinet and that of the Deputy Secretary-General. Previously, she was the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in the Republic of Kenya. She also served as UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in the Republic of Benin from November 2008 to September 2013.
As Resident Coordinator and Resident Representative, Mrs. Bekele-Thomas had the overall responsibility for high-level social, political and economic policy advisory services to the highest Government authorities at national and local levels and to key private sector and civil society actors. She has also been responsible for the overall coordination of collective UN operational activities for development results as well as the delivery of effective UNDP programme of assistance aimed at promoting and supporting pro-poor and inclusive economic growth and development. The primary programmatic focus of her work includes policy dialogue at the highest level of national governance, strategic public-private sector consultations, resource mobilization, pro-poor policy and programme development and implementation at the local and national levels.
Ms. Bekele-Thomas’ professional experience and background in the field of development span a broad spectrum, including private sector development strategies and policies, public policy; decentralized governance and participatory development; public/civil service reform and management; public-private sector strategic partnerships; women and youth leadership; empowerment and employment; and Information, Education and Communication (IEC) for development.
Prior to her appointment by the UN Secretary-General as Resident Coordinator and as Resident Representative by the UNDP Administrator, in Kenya and Benin, she served for over four years in Kenya as Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP with responsibility for the formulation and implementation of UNDP programme of assistance to the Republic of Kenya. This included support to national planning and development, private sector development, mitigation of the socio-economic impact of HIV/AIDS, Governance, Capacity Building, Health Sector Reform as well as Strategies and programme for Poverty Reduction.
Over the last three decades, Ms. Bekele-Thomas has also lived and served in various capacities in Ethiopia (1974-1982), New York, USA (1983-1987 and 1998-2004), India (1987-88), Bhutan (1988-1989), Comoros Islands (1989-1990), Republic of Benin (l990-1993) and Uganda (1994-1998), promoting human development anchored on the principles of economic, social and political rights for all. Before her assignment to Kenya, Ms. Bekele-Thomas served in New York as Country Programme Adviser for East and Central Africa in the Regional Bureau for Africa of UNDP (2001-2004).
As Private Sector Policy Adviser (1998-2001), Ms. Bekele-Thomas conducted extensive research on private sector development, supported the strengthening of African business associations, provided advisory services and played advocacy role in the development and management of micro, small and medium-scale enterprises. Based on her strong belief in promoting women and youth empowerment, she has carried out policy studies and developed programmes on the promotion of entrepreneurship and business skills training for employment and job creation.
Ms. Bekele-Thomas has worked in collaboration with regional and international organizations, including the African Business Roundtable (ABR) and the Corporate Council on Africa to promote trade and investment in African countries through private/public sector partnerships in the United States such as in the states of Connecticut, New Jersey and Arizona. She has served in technical and advisory capacities such as Technical Advisor to the Government of Uganda (1994-1998), on advocacy, formulation and successful implementation of Decentralized Governance and Private Sector Development and as a member of the Presidential Advisory Group, Republic of Benin (1990–1993), in which she helped initiate and conceptualize a pro-poor programme on the Social Dimensions of Development.
Ms. Bekele-Thomas is a member of the Group of African Eminent Women, she is a recipient of the prestigious AU/DAF Award of “2015 Woman of Excellence” along with the President of Liberia and former President of Malawi. She was also honored in 2007 as recipient of the Living Legend Achiever’s Award in recognition of her service and leadership role in the promotion of sustainable human development globally, particularly in Africa.
Ms. Bekele-Thomas holds a Master’s Degree and a Ph.D. Candidate Certificate in Economic Development, Monetary Economics and Econometrics from New York University (NYU). She is the author of several papers and monographs and she is fully bilingual in French and English.
Resident Coordination in South Africa
In South Africa, the Resident Representative of UNDP also acts as the Resident Co-ordinator, facilitating and coordinating the United Nations operational activities in South Africa. The Resident Coordinator Unit housed within UNDP supports the Resident Coordinator in the duties and responsibilities listed above.
There are 17 UN agencies and programmes represented in South Africa with offices in Pretoria. The Bretton Woods Institutions, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fundand the International Finance Corporation, also have offices in Gauteng. Most of the UN agencies are housed in the UN House located in Pretoria. Substantially, three Thematic Interagency groups (HIV/AIDS, Integrated Sustainable Rural Development and Regional Integration) ensure coordination.