Margareta Wahlström is the President of the Swedish Red Cross and former head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR).
Margareta Wahlström was elected President of the Swedish Red Cross on 6 May, 2017. She joined the Swedish Red Cross in 1987 as a Desk Officer for Southern Africa. In this capacity she worked for some time also in the then newly started Swedish Red Cross Orthopedic Workshop for war wounded in Luanda, Angola. In 1989, she joined the IFRC in Geneva, and she served in the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies as Desk Officer for Southern Africa 1989–1991, Deputy Director of Operations 1991–1994 and finally as Under Secretary-General, 1995–2000. In total she served 15 years for the Swedish Red Cross and the Federation.
Between 2009 and 2015, Ms. Wahlström was the Special Representative of the United Nations’ Secretary General for Disaster Risk Reduction, and simultaneously Head of the United Nations’ Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNIDRR), the focal point within the UN system for the coordination of disaster reduction, ensuring synergies with regional organizations across UN activities in socio-economic, development and humanitarian fields. Under Ms. Wahlström’s leadership, UNISDR designed and supported the inclusive consultations for, and subsequently the inter-governmental negotiations leading to, the ‘Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030’, adopted in March 2015 by all UN member states. The Sendai Framework is the first of the 2015 global policy directions for the coming 15 years.
Ms. Wahlström’s broad experience spans conflict and non-conflict emergencies, and addressing long-term issues of sustainable development.