Who should be on the post-2015 Panel?

by | Apr 17, 2012

And now for the fun part of thinking about the UN’s forthcoming High Level Panel on the post-2015 agenda: who should feature on its membership?

As well as balancing the obvious country constituencies (low income / emerging / developed), the Panel will also need to balance experience with new faces (High Level Panels can easily succumb to the problem of ‘usual suspects’), and ensure a diversity of expertise that is not just drawn from the international development scene. Here are some ideas that David and I have come up with – comments, suggestions, rebuttals all very welcome. We’ll update the list to create a one-stop talent pool as we get ideas on GD comments, Twitter (reach us at @davidsteven and @alexevansuk) or on email.

Low income countries

Abdoulaye Wade (Senegal) and Amadou Toumani Touré (Mali) – two ex-heads of state from Africa who emerge with credit from the manner of their parting.

Aung San Suu Kyi (Myanmar) – obviously.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Nigeria) – will have a higher profile than ever following her World Bank bid, and would have a huge amount to contribute.

Meles Zenawi (Ethiopia) – strong record on both poverty reduction and climate change (though not on human rights). Co-chaired UN Panel on climate finance.

Emilia Peres (Timor Leste) – a competent finance minister and one of the prime movers behind the g7+. Would bring a consistent and coherent voice for fragile states. Alternatively, Francesca Bomboko (DRC) might be a good choice.

Shahnaz Wazir Ali (Pakistan) – a lonely advocate for education, health, and gender in a country that is a critical test case for the international community.

Emerging economies

Luis Alfonso de Alba (Mexico) – currently Mexico’s ambassador to the UN. Key figure in Cancun climate talks; first President of the UN Human Rights Council in 2006.

Jairam Ramesh (India) – currently minister for rural development; covered climate before that. Was a member of the Global Sustainability Panel.

Wen Jiabao (China) – recent events make it look distinctly unlikely that he’ll be a lame duck after his retirement. Has said he will attend Rio+20.

Lula Inacio Lula da Silva (Brazil) – given Brazil’s record on poverty reduction, a must-have if he proves to be available.

Trevor Manuel (South Africa) – currently Minister in the Presidency in charge of the National Planning Commission. A seasoned operator who knows the development agenda back to front.

Developed countries

Christian Friis Bach or Ida Auken (Denmark) – new development and environment ministers. Young, extremely smart, heavily engaged on the SDGs agenda.

Kitty van der Heijden (Nethlerlands) – current Ambassador for sustainable development. Key opinion former on the Rio+20 agenda and a formidable operator.

Hilde Johnson (Norway) – currently serving as SRSG on South Sudan. As Norway’s development minister, was of the founding members of the Utstein Group.

Hillary Clinton (US) – the Panel needs an American member, preferably from the government. While Raj Shah is the obvious choice, Hillary would be perfect – if she could be persuaded.

International system

Josette Sheeran (US) – former head of WFP, State Dept minister and G8 sous-sherpa before that. Now Vice Chair of World Economic Forum.

Angel Gurria (Mexico) – current Secretary-General of OECD. Membership would be a perfect link to the work of the OECD DAC (which was so central to the creation of the MDGs).

Min Zhu (China) – deputy Managing Director of the IMF. Smart, economically literate, and unusually forthcoming even on sensitive issues like resource scarcity.

Non-government and private sector

Melinda (or Bill) Gates (US) – will be a key opinion former on the post-2015 agenda, and has the potential to emerge as an influential champion of the Panel’s ideas.

Paul Polman (Netherlands) – as CEO of Unilever has made the company a serious player on sustainability; also highly effective as Chair of WEF group on food security.

Fazle Hasan Abed (Bangladesh) – as founder of BRAC, he has carved out new space at the intersection between civil society and social enterprise, with its business network funding 80% of its vast operation.

Amartya Sen (India) – the godfather of international development and co-creator of the UN’s Human Development Index.

Andrew Rugasira (Uganda) – chief executive of Good African Coffee; recently profiled admiringly in the New York Times.

Sergey Brin (Russia) – not just a cool name to have on the Panel, but also one who would be able to bring a distinctive – and essential – tech perspective.

Ricken Patel (Canada) – founder and CEO of Avaaz.org, a refreshing antidote to the old model of single issue NGOs. Would also tick the ‘youth’ box.

Update: The Beyond 2015 civil society coalition has put forward its own list of suggestions for civil society representatives here.


  • Alex Evans

    Alex Evans is founder of the Collective Psychology Project, which explores how we can use psychology to reduce political tribalism and polarisation, a senior fellow at New York University, and author of The Myth Gap: What Happens When Evidence and Arguments Aren’t Enough? (Penguin, 2017). He is a former Campaign Director of the 50 million member global citizen’s movement Avaaz, special adviser to two UK Cabinet Ministers, climate expert in the UN Secretary-General’s office, and was Research Director for the Business Commission on Sustainable Development. He was part of Ethiopia’s delegation to the Paris climate summit and has consulted for Oxfam, WWF UK, the UK Cabinet Office and US State Department. Alex lives with his wife and two children in Yorkshire.

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