Announcement of new Commissioners for the New Zealand National Commission of UNESCO

We are pleased to announce the appointment of two Commissioners.

Vanisa Dhiru

Vanisa Dhiru has been appointed to the position of Commissioner – Communication and Information, for a three year term and replaces outgoing Commissioner, Trish Carter.

Vanisa has an extensive background within the NGO and voluntary sector. During her career she has been in Chief Executive roles including CEO of Volunteering New Zealand, and Executive Director of the 20/20 Trust (focusing on supporting digital inclusion for all New Zealanders). She has held governance roles with groups including the National Council of Women New Zealand, Inspiring Stories, the YWCA and Trade Aid. Her wide community involvement has secured her a place in the BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Global Network, and she is the only New Zealander in the network.

She sits on Victoria University of Wellington’s School of Business and Government Advisory Board and is on the National Library of New Zealand’s He Tohu Advisory Board.

She has been a member of past advisory groups for the Ministry of Social Development, Inland Revenue, and the Ministry for Women.

In 2010, Vanisa was a finalist in the Kiwibank Young New Zealander of the Year Awards, and in 2019 was recognised as a Te Aho Tāmaka leader by the Manawatū region.

She is passionate about equality, cultural relations, and youth leadership development.

Dr Geoff Hicks

Dr Geoff Hicks has been reappointed for another three years to his role as Commissioner – Natural Sciences.

During his first term as the Natural Sciences Commissioner Geoff has used his extensive knowledge of the New Zealand science system, his national and international networks, and his commitment to the work of UNESCO to inform and build the National Commission’s science-related activities. He has taken a lead in one of the National Commission’s priority areas, the development of a Global Geoparks programme in New Zealand.

The Global Geoparks Network (GGN) seeks the promotion and conservation of the planet’s geological heritage, while also encouraging sustainable research and development for affiliated communities. Currently, an application by the Waitaki Whitestone Aspiring Global Geopark is being considered by UNESCO and a decision is expected later this year.

Geoff retired from the role of Chief Scientist at the Department of Conservation in 2016. He is an Emeritus Research Associate at Landcare Research and past co-chair of the End-User Advisory Panel of the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge, and is a member of the Interdisciplinary Committee of the World Cultural Council. For eight years he was New Zealand’s head of delegation to the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and in this role represented New Zealand at a number of United Nations related deliberations.

He has previously worked for the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and Te Papa Tongarewa.

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