World Resources Institute has announced that Dr. Cosmas Milton Obote Ochieng has been selected as the new Global Director of the WRI Governance Center. In this role, Ochieng will oversee a team focused on advancing good governance to address poverty, inequality and environmental degradation. Current priorities of the governance team include environmental rights, climate resilience, land rights, gender equity, energy access and more. The team includes experts based in the United States, India and Africa. Ochieng will also serve as a member of WRI’s global management team, informing the institute’s overall strategy and activities. He will be based in Nairobi, Kenya.
Ochieng joins WRI from the African Development Bank where he has served as Director of the African Natural Resources Center. Prior to that, he was Professor of the Practice of Global Development Policy at the Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University. He is also a former Executive Director of the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS), and a former Technical Coordinator of the Business, Economics and Biodiversity program of IUCN’s Eastern and Southern regional office in Pretoria, South Africa. Ochieng has also worked with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) as a Research Fellow, and at Lancaster University as Lecturer in Sustainable Agriculture Land and Water. He holds graduate degrees in Development Studies from Oxford and Cambridge universities. Ochieng’s vast experience in creating change and strategically managing large, intersectional projects makes him an ideal candidate to move the WRI Governance Center into its next phase of work.
“Cosmas is a global leader on governance and poverty issues, with many decades of on-the-ground expertise in Africa,” said Manish Bapna, Executive Vice President and Managing Director, WRI. “We know that many of today’s most pressing challenges – climate change, water scarcity, deforestation and more – have disproportionate impacts on vulnerable populations. WRI strives to make all voices heard and empower communities with the information they need to advocate for their rights. In Cosmas, we have found precisely the right candidate to lead the Governance Center and scale its impact with a renewed focus on tackling poverty and inequality.”
WRI’s Governance Center works with governments, the private sector, civil society and communities to address issues of injustice, representation and equitable decision-making – particularly those that affect poor and vulnerable communities. Initiatives like the Global Commission on Adaptation seek to address how people impacted by climate change can adapt to a shifting world. Data platforms like LandMark and Energy Access Explorer bring open data and maps to indigenous communities, businesses, development actors, and more. The STRIPE project partners WRI with local communities and civil society to advance the right to clean air and water for all. Ochieng will seek to expand upon the progress made in recent years and will drive new work supporting low-income households and countries around the world.
“I am honored and delighted to join WRI, and am excited at the opportunity of leading WRI’s Governance Center in their work empowering communities and enhancing the capacity of governments and other stakeholders with the goal of moving human society to live in ways that protect Earth’s environment and its capacity to provide for the needs and aspirations of current and future generations.” said Ochieng.
“Cosmas is a crucial hire for WRI’s work in Africa,” said Wanjira Mathai, Vice President and Regional Director for Africa, WRI. “Our vision to catalyze rural and urban transformation hinges on our understanding of underlying political economy. This requires that issues of governance remain at the heart of what we do to build inclusive and transformative systems. Cosmas will establish a strong presence for the Governance Center in Africa and will help us keep poverty and inequity at the heart of our work.”
Ochieng takes over as the Global Director on January 18th, following Peter Veit, who leads the Land and Resource Rights initiative in the Governance Center and has served as the acting director for two years. During his time as acting director, Veit has overseen the Governance Center’s diverse portfolio of work and has continued to produce high caliber research on land rights.