Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a Nigerian-American economist, fair trade advocate, environmental sustainability advocate, human welfare advocate, expert in sustainable finance and global development. She is the first woman and the first African to head the World Trade Organization as its Director-General. Her achievements have contributed significantly to the fight against poverty in countries around the world.
‘During her time at the World Bank, Okonjo-Iweala has spearheaded, among many other achievements, the successful campaign to fund IDA, the International Development Agency focusing on low-income countries,' says honorary supervisor Sweder van Wijnbergen. As Finance Minister of Nigeria, she successfully negotiated a restructuring of Nigeria's sovereign debt and established a successful mechanism to minimize the deleterious effects of oil price volatility on Nigeria's economy, a major producer and exporter of oil and gas.'
‘She has also set up several programmes for the empowerment of women and the support of young entrepreneurs in Nigeria. Since leaving the Ministry of Finance, she has actively participated in many high-level commissions dealing with the world's major challenges, such as climate change and currently the COVID-19 pandemic, before being elected as Director-General of the World Trade Organization in 2021. There is no doubt that she is the right recipient of this honorary doctorate,' adds Van Wijnbergen.
Besides her position as Director-General at the World Trade Organization, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala seats at the boards of various organisations such as Danone, Standard Chartered Bank, Twitter, MINDS: Mandela Institute for Development Studies, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and many others. She received her PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and is currently the Angelopoulos Global Public Leaders Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School, where she shares lessons learned on ending extreme poverty and creating more inclusive societies around the world.
At the World Bank, Okonjo-Iweala had a 25-year career as a development economist. She was also the first Nigerian woman to serve two terms as Nigeria's Finance Minister. In 2005, she was named Global Finance Minister of the Year by Euromoney.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has numerous awards and achievements to her name. For example, she has been included in the list of the 50 greatest world leaders (Fortune, 2015), in the top 100 most influential people in the world (TIME, 2014) and in the top of several Forbes lists.
Karen Maex, rector magnificus of the UvA: 'Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is an inspiring economist who has been praised not only in Nigeria, but around the world, for her work on economic growth and sustainable development in third world countries. I am therefore extremely proud to be able to award her the honorary doctorate on behalf of the University of Amsterdam during our Dies Natalis'.
Honorary supervisors are Prof. Sweder van Wijnbergen, Professor of Economics at the Faculty of Economics and Business and Prof. Joyeeta Gupta (Professor of environment and development in the global south).
Besides Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Ugur Sahin and Özlem Türeci will receive honorary doctorates from the UvA.