Liz Longworth joined the New Zealand Commission for UNESCO as Chair in 2023. She oversees the Commission’s strategy and work programme in collaboration with the Secretariat, five Commissioners and a group of young leaders.
Liz has spent a significant part of her working life overseas and has held various roles within the United Nations and UNESCO. Prior to returning to Aotearoa New Zealand, Liz was the Director of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction in Geneva where she led global coordination programmes on building resilience and preventing disaster loss.
Prior to that she was the Director of the Information Society Division in the Communication and Information Sector, the Deputy Assistant Director General of the Social Sciences Sector, and the Executive Director (DIR/ODG) of UNESCO in Paris.
Before her international roles she led development strategies in Aotearoa New Zealand as Sector Director for ICT at Industry New Zealand. A lawyer with over 20 years’ experience, Liz built an international practice as an expert on information policies, the law and ethics of new technologies and is an author on access to information (FOI), privacy and cyberspace law. Liz is qualified in mediation and alternative dispute resolution design.
Liz served two terms on the board of directors of the NZ Financial Markets Authority (FMA) and was the former Chair of the FMA's Audit and Risk Committee.
Previous governance and strategic roles include Chair of the inter-agency UN High Level Programme Committee on Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience; the international Experts Committee that produced the UN Recommendation on Access to Cyberspace; the ESR Ethics Committee and the Telecommunications Number Administration Body.
Liz is active with NGOs and is an advocate campaigning for women’s rights, equal opportunities and an end to violence against women.