Goodwill Ambassadors

Outstanding public figures, business leaders and industrialists from various regions of the world are selected to improve UNIDO's visibility, profile and global reach, both with governments and the private sector. The Goodwill Ambassadors champion UNIDO's core theme: the role of manufacturing and sustainable industrial development in the overall development process.

Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca served as the ninth President of the Republic of Malta from 2014-19. While President, she established a number of entities to nurture dialogue and to foster unity and a culture of positive peace among people, including the “President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society”, “Corporate Citizenship for Responsible Enterprises” (CORE) and “Empower”, a platform of women's organizations coming together under one umbrella to secure a stronger voice in the debate for equality and to inspire women and girls to take on leadership roles.

Coleiro Preca has supported UNIDO in emphasizing the importance of gender equality and advocating for inclusive and sustainable industrial development.

In September 2018, she was also made a Champion of the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa (IDDA III) and will support UNIDO in enhancing the Decade's visibility.

Helen Hai is the CEO of the Made in Africa Initiative which advises African governments on industrialization and investment promotion. She is also co-Founder of C&H Garments, a pioneering Pan-African export-oriented garments manufacturer.

Hai was trained as an actuary in the United Kingdom and has some 20 years of international experience in FTSE100 companies. She has a BA in actuarial science and MSc in actuarial management from CASS Business School in London and EMBA from INSEAD and Tsinghua University.

In 2015, she was named Global Young Leader by the World Economic Forum (WEF). She is co-chair of the WEF Global Future Council on the Future of Consumption. She also received the 2015 African Business Icon Award.

In 2016, Hai was awarded the prestigious National Order of Lion of Senegal. She is on the committee of the Global Commission on Business and Sustainable Development. As UNIDO's Goodwill Ambassador, Hai focuses on Africa’s industrialization.

Watch the video of Hai's appointment as UNIDO Goodwill Ambassador here.

Veronika Peshkova is a prominent gender activist with a long-standing experience in supporting women empowerment and women entrepreneurship initiatives. She was officially appointed as international UNIDO Goodwill Ambassador on the margins of the Second Eurasian Women's Forum in St. Petersburg, Russia, which took place from 19-22 September 2018.

Peshkova is an Executive Board Member and Expert Council Member of the Committee on Women Entrepreneurship Development of the Russian non-governmental organization for small and medium business “OPORA RUSSIA”. Furthermore she is President of the Public Diplomacy Foundation “Women’ View” and Executive Director of the Women’s Entrepreneurship Development Centre.

She has already significantly contributed to UNIDO’s efforts in promoting inclusive and sustainable industrial development and women entrepreneurship development during previous years and will strengthen these efforts in her new role as international UNIDO Goodwill Ambassador.

Further information on Veronika Peshkova can be found here.

In 2006, Marcos Pontes became the first South American astronaut to go into space. Coming from poor living conditions in the suburbs of Sao Paulo, he reached his dreams through basic education and professional skills training which enabled him to commence subsequent studies in aeronautical technology and engineering.

On his appointment as a UNIDO Goodwill Ambassador in November 2011, Pontes expressed his appreciation for UNIDO, saying: “Looking from space, Earth is a unique and beautiful planet. We have seven billion people trying to live with some quality on this wonderful blue home. But that will not be possible if we try it selfishly. We need to get together and prepare the new generation to be citizens of one world. UNIDO can help in this challenge, and I am honoured to accept the nomination to cooperate as UNIDO Goodwill Ambassador for a better future on Earth.”

He was appointed Brazil’s Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation in January 2019. He was reappointed as a UNIDO Goodwill Ambassador in June 2019.

Janne Vangen Solheim, Chief Executive Officer of the Norwegian garment manufacturing company, Janusfabrikken AS. She was appointed as UNIDO Goodwill Ambassador for Manufacturing.

Based on her extensive and successful experience as an entrepreneur in the manufacturing sector, Solheim champions UNIDO’s mandate of inclusive and sustainable industrial development, and in particular supports the Organization’s work to promote women’s entrepreneurship.

Vangen Solheim has served on her company board since 1992. Having worked as a teacher and a journalist, she began her career at Janusfabrikken AS in 2000 as a junior sales consultant, and worked her way up as public relations manager, and deputy managing director, taking over as CEO in 2010. Janusfabrikken AS is one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of underwear. The Janus brand is sold to large chains and individual retailers selling textiles, sports and industrial products on both the domestic and international markets.

Vangen Solheim has also served as a member of the board of directors of the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO), the Federation of Norwegian Industries (Norsk Industri), Young Entrepreneurs of West Norway (Ungt Entreprenørskap Hordaland), and Bergen Red Cross.

Professor Marc Van Montagu is a pioneer of plant molecular biology who made critical discoveries over the years that continue to help scientists tackle global food security challenges. His achievements in founding, developing, and applying modern agricultural biotechnology have contributed significantly to growing crops with improved yields, resistance to insects and disease, and the ability to tolerate extreme climate variations.

Prof. Van Montagu has established two biotechnology companies and has served on the scientific advisory boards of many others. In 2000, he founded the Institute of Plant Biotechnology Outreach, with the mission of assisting developing countries in gaining access to the latest plant biotechnology developments and to stimulate their research institutions to become independent and competitive.

He was appointed Goodwill Ambassador for the development of agribusiness in low-income countries by UNIDO in November 2014.

At the time of his appointment, UNIDO Director General, LI Yong, said, “We want to recognize a remarkable career that has brought such dramatic improvements to the lives of the rural poor around the world. By bestowing this recognition on Professor Van Montagu, we want to highlight, from the perspective of UNIDO, the impact of biotechnology on the food and agribusiness industries of the 21st century and beyond”.