The UN Resident Coordinator's Office in Lao PDR

The United Nations Country Team (UNCT) is led by the UN Resident Coordinator, the designated representative of the UN Secretary General in the Lao PDR. The Resident Coordinator provides leadership of the UN’s overall engagement and cooperation with the Lao PDR, and strategic guidance and coordination for the operational activities of the UN and its agencies, funds and programmes at the country level, ensuring that the UN is able to provide efficient and effective development support aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Governments development priorities among its 18 Goals. 

The Resident Coordinator’s Office acts as the secretariat to the UN Resident Coordinator and the UNCT, providing organizational, advisory and management support, and facilitating the UN’s joint strategic planning. The Resident Coordinator’s Office draws on the expertise and experience of the entire UN family, promoting information exchange, cooperation and collaboration among UN agencies, and supporting joint initiatives, for instance on the localization of the Sustainable Development Goals. It also supports and coordinates the assistance of non-resident UN agencies, funds and programmes in pursuit of national development priorities and strategies. In crisis and emergency contexts, the Resident Coordinator in cooperation with the Government, and supported by the Resident Coordinator’s Office, coordinates the humanitarian assistance of the international community.

The UN Resident Coordinator in Lao PDR

The UN Resident Coordinator in Lao PDR is Ms. Sara Sekkenes. 

“For the United Nations, 2019 marks the beginning of a new era as the Resident Coordinator System delinks from UNDP. However, it is not new for the UN in Lao PDR to deliver results in a coordinated way, as one. With the Lao PDR – United Nations Partnership Framework (2017-2021) guiding our work, we will continue our support to the Government to reach its aspirations of by 2030 becoming an upper middle-income country, where all people benefit equally from quality services, including those most vulnerable.” – Ms. Sara Sekkenes. 

With 22 years of experience within international humanitarian and development cooperation, Sara Sekkenes was appointed the UN Resident Coordinator in the People’s Democratic Republic of Lao by the UN Secretary General and began her assignment on 1 May 2019. Prior to this, Sara has worked with the United Nations for 14 years, serving in duty stations at the headquarters in New York and in Geneva.

Sara recently served at UNDP in Geneva as Adviser on Partnerships and Conflict Prevention (2015-2019) and as Team Leader, Conflict Prevention and Recovery (2011-2014), engaging in human rights, violence prevention, arms control and mine action work. Previously she served as UNDP Adviser and Team Leader, Armed Violence Prevention, Mine Action and Small Arms (2006-2011).

Before joining the United Nations, Sara worked with the non-governmental organization Norwegian People’s Aid as Country Director in Mozambique, managing a 350-staff humanitarian mine action programme (2004-2005), as Policy Adviser at their headquarter in Oslo, Norway, (2001-2004) as Programme Adviser, in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia and in Kosovo* (2001), and Programme Manager in Angola (1998-2000).

A national of Norway, Sara holds a Master from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden in the field of Human and Physical Geography and additional university degrees in Development Studies and Political Geography. She speaks English, French and Portuguese in addition to her mother tongues, Norwegian and Swedish.

The UN Resident Coordinator's Office in Lao PDR

The Resident Coordinator (RC) is supported by the Resident Coordinator's Office (RCO), which includes:

  • Head of Office, Shairi Mathur
  • Senior Economist, Matthew Johnson-Idan
  • Financing for Development Officer, Wesley Ramnauth
  • Reform Country Programming Officer, Basil Huerzeler
  • Development Coordination Officer, Data Management and Result Monitoring & Reporting, Vankham Bounvilay
  • Development Coordination Officer, Climate Change and Environmental Protection, Toscan Vermast 
  • Climate and Disaster-Resilient Development Officer, Sanjay Pariyar
  • Sustainable Development Support Officer, Chiara Dozza
  • Development Coordination Officer, Programme Communications and Advocacy, Yoon Young Jang 
  • Disability Inclusion Partnerships and Advocacy Officer, Lapkeo Somchanmavong
  • Executive Associate, Khemphet Phaokhamkeo
  • Administrative Assistant, Phetdouangchan Vixaiyavong
  • Driver, Bounchanh Soukkanya
Ms. Sara Sekkenes_Photo

Ms. Sara Sekkenes

Resident Coordinator