Ligia Noronha

UN Assistant Secretary-General and Head of UNEP, New York Office


Ligia Noronha is the UN Assistant Secretary-General and Head of UNEP, New York Office, an economist with over 30 years of international professional experience in promoting environmental sustainability.

She was appointed in April 2014 as Director of the UN Environment Programme, Division of Technology, Industry and Economics - now known as the Economy Division. The Division works to shift economies from brown to green with a strategic focus on decarbonizing, decoupling, and detoxifying. Ms. Noronha acted as Lead Director of two of the seven UN Environment’s sub-programmes, namely chemicals and waste, and resource efficiency, and leads the emerging agenda on Environment/Pollution and Health. Until 2018, she also led the climate change sub programme.

Ms. Noronha’s prior experience spans a wider-range of bodies in both the private and public sectors. Prior to joining UN Environment, she served in The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) as Executive Director (Research Coordination) and as Director of the Resources, Regulation and Global Security Division. Her work focused on conducting policy research on sustainable development in India and the Global South.

From 2005 to 2011 she served as Secretary of the Asian Energy Institute focusing on policy research on energy, resources, climate change and sustainable development issues. From 2005 to 2009, Ms. Noronha served as Coordinator of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnerships (REEEP), South Asia.  In 2004, she was appointed Team Leader of Ecosystem Approaches to Human Health at the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada. Ms. Noronha has served on the National Security Advisory Board of the Government of India focusing on the linkages between the environment, climate and security and on several expert committees of the Government of India and Goa, including the Expert Committee on Climate Change, the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel, and the Task Force on Natural Resources of the Commission on Centre State Relations.

In addition, she has been a member of the Planning Board of the Government of Goa and member of the Goa Jubilee Development Council, a member of Shell International’s External Review Committee on Sustainability Reporting. Ms. Noronha served as a member of the Global Assurance Group of the Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development project, which examined how the mining and minerals sector could contribute to the global transition to sustainable development. From 2009 to 2011, she was a Visiting Senior Fellow at the University of Sydney-based Centre for International Security Studies (CISS).

Ms. Noronha has published nationally and internationally on emerging issues relevant to energy and resource security, climate change, India's environmental and coastal policy, responsible mining, and resource federalism. She has also co-edited a number of books.

Ms. Noronha is an Indian national with a Masters in Economics from the University of Bombay, a Masters in Sea Use Law, Economics, and Policy, and a PhD from the London School of Economics. 


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