Zehra Aydin joined UNEP in September 2006 as the UNEP Liaison to the UN Development Group- a system wide mechanism to coordinate operational activities in the field and to support UN country teams.
Prior to UNEP she was with the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) where she worked in the Division for Sustainable Development, managing the relationship of the Commission on Sustainable Development with civil society and the private sector (1993-2006). Before DESA, she was with the former UN Centre on Transnational Corporations where she worked on environment and business issues (1990-1992).
During her assignment in DESA, she was seconded twice: first to the Executive office of the Secretary-General (EOSG) for 18 months and next to the UN Non-governmental Liaison Service (NGLS) for 12 months. In the EOSG, Aydin supported the work of the Secreatry-General’s Panel of Eminent Persons on UN-Civil Society Relations (known as the Cardoso Panel). In UN-NGLS she was the Deputy Coordinator and Chief of the Service’s New York office.
Aydin’s UN career has largely focused on environment and development, partnerships with role of civil society and private sector, and inter-agency relations. Her work with civil society and private sector has generated new participatory practices in the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, such as the multi-stakeholder dialogues, and shaped the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, 2002) as an unusually participatory event. She also assisted the Cardoso Panel to develop proposals on improving how the UN collaborates with civil society, and in NGLS she managed the first ever Hearings of the General Assembly with civil society and the private sector in 2005.
A Turkish national, she conducted advance studies in psychology (organizational and clinical focus) and political sciences (international relations, political economy and environmental economy focus). Her personal time concentrates on music and ballroom dancing as a student of classical guitar and the Argentinean tango.