Leadership: Insights from Irina Bokova, former Director-General of UNESCO, Board member of the Ban Ki-Moon Centre for Global Citizens and visiting lecturer

RELX, March 2021

Irina Bokova, born in Sofia (Bulgaria), has been two terms the Director- General of UNESCO from 2009 to 2017. Having graduated from Moscow State Institute of International Relations, Irina Bokova was a Fellow at the University of Maryland, Washington, and followed an executive program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. As Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova was actively engaged in the UN efforts to adopt Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, particularly Goal 4 on “Achieving Inclusive and Equitable Quality Education and Promoting Life-Long Learning for All”, as well as science and new technologies for sustainable development, protection of cultural and natural heritage and biodiversity, and gender equality. Since 2010 till 2017, Irina Bokova was vice-chair of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, established by UNESCO and ITU (International Telecommunications Union), serving as a large platform for Governments, private sector and academia to support and promote connectivity and sustainable development. During the time of the work of the Broadband Commission, Bokova was chairing the Working Groups on Education and ICTs, and Gender and ICTs. Irina Bokova was also chairing from 2014 till 2017 the UN Secretary General’s Scientific Advisory Board on Sustainable Development with a focus on science-policy interface.

Irina Bokova was on the Forbes List of the world's most influential women for 2016. She has received academic distinctions from leading universities across the globe such as King's College, London, the University of Massachusetts, Boston, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, Paris Sud Saclay, France, Tongji University, Shanghai, Russian Academy of Sciences, St Petersburg, among others. In 2020 was elected International Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in the category of Educational, Cultural and Non-profit Leadership.

Currently, she is Member of the Board of “Ban Ki-Moon Centre for Global Citizens”, Member of the Senate of FIA and of the High Panel on Road Safety, Member of the Concordia Leadership Council, New York, visiting lecturer at the Paris School of International Affairs /PSIA/, Sciences Po, and at the University of Geneva, among others.