Dr. Yumkell is the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General and Chief Executive officer of the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative. He leads the overall coordination of the initiative and oversees the work of the Global Facilitation Team (GFT), as well as operations at various locations, including the Thematic and Regional hubs.
Prior to his appointment, Kandeh Yumkella served two terms as Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), first in December 2005 and then upon re-election in 2009. He previously held various high-level positions in UNIDO, including Special Adviser to two former Directors-General and Director of the Africa and Least Developed Countries Regional Bureau. Under his leadership, UNIDO became the largest provider of trade-related technical assistance to developing countries in the United Nations system.
Kandeh Yumkella has also chaired UN-Energy since 2008, convening UN organizations working on energy issues. As its Chairman, he brought a renewed focus to global energy issues and helped to coordinate the UN response to such issues. From 2008 to 2010, he chaired the Secretary-General’s Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change (AGECC), highlighting the lack of access to energy as a crucial constraint for development efforts. The Group’s report, which was issued in April 2010, confirmed the need to increase energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy options in order to address the climate change challenge and realize the Millennium Development Goals.
Prior to working for UNIDO, he was the Minister for Trade, Industry and State Enterprises of the Republic of Sierra Leone from 1994-1995. Between 1987 and 1996, while furthering his studies, he held various academic positions at Michigan State University and the University of Illinois.
Kandeh is a Member of World Economic Forum, Global Agenda Council on Climate Change, and China International Council on Cooperation for Environment and Development (CICCED). He holds PhD in Agricultural Economics from the University of Illinois, and M.Sc. in Agricultural Economics from Cornell University. He obtained his B.Sc. Division One (Cum Laude) in General Agriculture from Njala University College in Sierra Leone.