In December 2005, Dr. Kandeh K. Yumkella was appointed Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), having previously worked in various high-level policy positions in UNIDO. He was re-appointed for a second four-year term in office in December 2009.
Prior to working for UNIDO, Yumkella was the Minister for Trade, Industry and State Enterprises of the Republic of Sierra Leone from 1994-1995. From 1987-1996, he held various academic positions at Michigan State University and the University of Illinois.
In recognition of his leadership and his passion for energy and environment-related causes, Yumkella was appointed as Chair of UN-Energy in 2008 by the UN Secretary-General. UN-Energy brings together all the UN organizations dealing with energy issues. As its Chairman, Yumkella brought a renewed and vital focus to global energy issues and he helped to coordinate the UN response to energy issues.
In September 2011, Yumkella was appointed by the UN Secretary-General as Co-Chair of the High-level Group on Sustainable Energy for All. This followed a decision by the UN General Assembly to designate 2012 as the International Year for Sustainable Energy for All. As Co-Chair of this High-level Group, Yumkella helps to guide the initiative aimed at highlighting the need for universal access to energy, as well as increased energy efficiency and enhanced deployment of renewable sources of energy.
Yumkella was a Member of the Rio+20 Principals Group, which played a crucial role in the preparations for the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development. Since 2008, he has also been an active member of the UN Development Group, which helps to set and coordinate the global development priorities of the United Nations. Under his leadership as Director-General, UNIDO has maintained a role as the largest provider of trade-related technical assistance to developing countries in the UN system.
In September 2012, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Yumkella as Special Representative for the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative.