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UN Secretary-General Appoints Sarah Cook as New Head of UNRISD

28 Sep 2009



UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has appointed Dr. Sarah Cook as the new Director of UNRISD. Dr. Cook will take up her post on 1 November 2009, replacing Thandika Mkandawire who left UNRISD on 30 April 2009.

Dr. Cook, who joins UNRISD from the Institute of Development Studies, is a development economist and China specialist whose recent work has included research on social protection in Asia, social welfare in rural China, the informalization of employment and the gender impacts of economic reform. She is the first British national to take the helm at UNRISD.

“I am very much looking forward to the challenges involved in managing UNRISD’s multinational research teams, attracting and collaborating with leading researchers, while maintaining quality and influence in our work. I intend to join my new colleagues in identifying cutting-edge research topics and carrying on the UNRISD tradition of delivering innovative, influential and timely research”, said Dr. Cook.

“While academic excellence is clearly a priority in maintaining UNRISD as the leading institution in its field, doing this in a way which builds on the strengths of multi-disciplinarity; engages with a diverse community of scholars, policy makers, practitioners and other stakeholders - including local communities; and delivers and communicates practical policy-relevant results; is also of critical importance for achieving impact.”

Dr. Cook has a PhD in Public Policy from Harvard University. She speaks English and Chinese fluently, and has a working knowledge of French and Spanish.

Notes to editors
  • The United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) was created in 1963 and is an autonomous UN agency engaging in multidisciplinary research on the social dimensions of contemporary development issues. Through its research, UNRISD stimulates dialogue and contributes to policy debates on key issues of social development within and outside the UN system.
  • Sarah Cook studied at Oxford University, the London School of Economics and Harvard University. She is a widely published development economist and social policy expert, specializing in social reform in China. During her career to date, she has experience carrying out international academic research and has taught in the multidisciplinary field of development studies. She has also undertaken policy and advisory work for international governmental and non-governmental development agencies. Dr. Cook spent over 12 years living in China, and has also worked in India, East Africa, Cambodia and Mongolia.

Please use the links to the right of this page to access the Media Downloads related to this Press Release. For media enquiries please contact Richard Warren at UNRISD on +41 (0)22 917 1497.