India-born economist Geeta Batra named as first woman Director of World Bank’s GEF

Geeta Batra, a distinguished economist from India, has achieved a historic milestone by becoming the first woman from a developing nation to assume the role of Director at the Independent Evaluation Office of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), affiliated with the World Bank.

At 57 years old, Geeta Batra currently serves as the Chief Evaluator & Deputy Director for Evaluation at GEF’s Independent Evaluation Office, located at the World Bank. Her appointment to this prestigious position received unanimous recommendation during the 66th GEF Council Meeting in Washington on February 9, with the announcement being made last week.

Speaking from Virginia, USA, Batra expressed her dedication to delivering thorough evaluative evidence on GEF’s results and performance, and providing leadership to ensure that the IEO remains at the forefront of environmental evaluation. She outlined her priorities, stating, “I will enhance the capabilities of the IEO teams, invest in skill development, and foster partnerships with multilateral and bilateral agencies, foundations, and networks to share knowledge on effective practices and strategies.”

Born in New Delhi, Batra pursued her education in Mumbai and Chennai before earning her MBA in Finance from NMIMS, Vile Parle. Influenced by her professor, Harkant Mankad, she pursued a Ph.D. in Economics in the United States. Following her doctoral studies, she worked at American Express before joining the World Bank in 1998.

Throughout her career, Batra has held significant positions, contributing to competitiveness projects in East Asia and Latin America. She served as the Head & Chief Evaluator at the International Finance Corporation before joining the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) as Chief Evaluator and Manager for country and corporate thematic evaluations.

Since 2015, Batra has been affiliated with GEF’s Independent Evaluation Office, overseeing a team of evaluation professionals and ensuring the quality and effectiveness of evaluations’ design and implementation.

The GEF, a prominent entity in the environmental sector since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, has provided substantial grants and co-financing for projects globally. Batra’s appointment underscores her extensive experience and commitment to environmental evaluation, furthering the global community’s efforts in addressing environmental challenges.

Geeta Batra, who has co-authored books and articles and overseen over 100 evaluations, resides in Northern Virginia with her husband Prakash and their daughter Roshini. Outside of her professional pursuits, she enjoys outdoor activities, hiking in national parks, reading historical biographies, and indulging in diverse cuisines. Despite her global experiences, Batra maintains a strong connection to India, expressing a particular fondness for traditional Indian dishes like pav-bhaji, pani-puri, puri, and chhole-bhature.

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