Our Team in Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu

Dirk Wagener

Dirk Wagener

United Nations Resident Coordinator to Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
With over 20 years of experience in international development cooperation within the United Nations System, Mr. Dirk Wagener has held diverse leadership roles spanning sustainable development, peacebuilding, humanitarian assistance, and environmental protection. His expertise extends from serving as UNDP Resident Representative in Papua New Guinea to chairing intergovernmental negotiations on the Bougainville Peace Process as acting UN Resident Coordinator and leading UNEP’s global efforts on Resource Efficiency and Sustainable Consumption and Production.

Prior to his UN tenure, Mr. Wagener contributed to development efforts in India and Germany. He holds a master's degree in International Agricultural Sciences and a bachelor's degree in Agronomy from the Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany.

Vanessa Vudikaria

UNV Pacific Field Unit Multi-Country Coordinator
Vanessa joined the UN Volunteers Pacific Field Unit based in Suva as Multi-Country Coordinator in March 2022. The Field Unit is responsible for the mobilization and placement of UN Volunteers in UN Agencies, Funds, and Programmes focused on peace, development, and humanitarian needs, covering 14 countries in the Pacific region: Fiji, Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Marshall Islands, Palau, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Cook Islands, and Tokelau. UNV also promotes volunteerism as a cross-cutting means of implementation for the 2030 Agenda. Prior to joining UNV, Vanessa worked for the Embassy of Japan in Fiji’s Development Cooperation division and UN Women’s Ending Violence Against Women and Girls (EVAWG) programme. She has a Master of Arts degree in International Relations from Waseda University in Tokyo.
Adrian Edwards

Adrian Edwards

Multi-Country Representative based in Canberra
Adrian Edwards is the Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Canberra with geographical responsibility for the region including Australia, the Cook Islands, the Republic of Fiji, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Kiribati, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, the Republic of Palau, the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, the Independent State of Samoa, the Solomon Islands, the Kingdom of Tonga, Tuvalu and the Republic Vanuatu. Building on a long history of UNHCR involvement in the region, Adrian’s role is to work with governments and other partners to increase understanding and support for refugees and asylum-seekers, and stateless persons. Before coming to Australia Adrian was UNHCR’s representative in Montenegro. He has also been an international spokesperson for the organization and led its worldwide news and media operations for over a decade including at the 2019 Global Refugee Forum and across multiple humanitarian emergencies. Over the course of his UN career, he has worked in Afghanistan with the UN political mission UNAMA, in Timor-Leste with UNMIT, in Sudan with the UN-AU Hybrid mission in Darfur, and in Cambodia where he was a political violence analyst for OHCHR. Adrian has a background in human rights policy and in journalism in the Asia-Pacific, having worked among others with the Far Eastern Economic Review, Reuters, Economist Intelligence Unit and in South Korea as a radio and TV correspondent for the BBC. Adrian is British-Swedish. He studied public administration at Harvard, and music in London. He is married to journalist Huongly Buiduong.
Alpha Bah

Alpha Bah

Country Director for the Pacific Multi-Country Office
Alpha Bah is WFP’s Country Director for the Pacific Multi-Country Office based in Suva, Fiji. In the Pacific, WFP works towards improving the capacity of Pacific Island Countries and Territories to reduce risk of, prepare for, and respond to disasters with a view of building a more resilient Pacific Community. Since joining WFP in 2000, he has been stationed in several countries including North Korea, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Italy, Senegal, Kenya, UAE, and Bangladesh, responding to and supporting several high-profile emergency missions around the world.

Prior to joining WFP, Alpha worked for UNDP and for the private sector as a network engineer. Prior to his assignment in the Pacific, Alpha was the Deputy Country Director for WFP in Bangladesh with overall responsibility for operations and support services for WFP’s development and humanitarian assistance programs. He had also previously served as WFP’s Chief of IT Emergency Preparedness and Response, responsible for managing WFP’s IT emergency team and leadership of the global Emergency Telecommunication Cluster (ETC).

Alpha is married and has four children. He and his wife are from Sierra Leone. He holds a master’s degree in Management and Information Systems, and a bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering with honors, and a Certified Network Engineer. He is a dedicated humanitarian and proud husband and father.
Andie Fong Toy

Andie Fong Toy

Head of the ESCAP Subregional Office for the Pacific
Ms. Andie Fong Toy is the Head of the ESCAP Subregional Office for the Pacific in Suva, Fiji.

Ms. Fong Toy brings over thirty years of experience in the Pacific. She previously served as Legal and Political Advisor, International Legal Advisor and Director, Political and Security Programme at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat before being appointed as its Deputy Secretary-General. In this capacity, she oversaw political and security, economic governance, and trade policy issues, including economic integration and reform in the Pacific.

In her more recent capacity as Labour Mobility Advisor for the Australian Pacific Training Coalition, Ms. Fong Toy provided strategic advice to countries of the Pacific on ways to optimize labour mobility and produce the best employment outcomes.

Ms. Fong Toy holds a master’s degree in international relations from Deakin University and a bachelor’s degree in law from Victoria University of Wellington.
UN Habitat

Bernhard Barth

Pacific Regional Coordinator
Bernhard Barth joined UN-Habitat in 2006 and oversees UN-Habitat’s Pacific Programme since 2013 after moving to the Regional Office in Japan from UN-Habitat’s Headquarters in Nairobi. Bernhard also oversees two other country programmes in the Asia Pacific Region and UN-Habitat’s climate change programme.

Prior to joining UN-Habitat, he worked for ESCAP in Bangkok and various NGOs in Madagascar, Papua New Guinea and the UK and his native Germany. Bernhard holds Master’s degrees in Economics and in Environmental Policy.
Brian Smith

Brian Smith

UN Regional Security Advisor Fiji and Samoa Multi Country Offices
Brian Smith joined the Fiji Samoa Multi Country Offices as Regional Security Adviser in November 2019. He came to Fiji from Phnom Penh where he was the Regional Security Adviser for Cambodia, Vietnam and Lao PDR. Prior to this Mr Smith served in Afghanistan where he was the UN Chief of Security Operations from July 2013 to July 2015, UN Security Adviser for Vietnam from 2011 to 2013, UN Regional Security Adviser for China, DPRK and ROK from 2008 – 2011, UN Security Adviser for India and Bhutan from 2005 – 2008, and UN Deputy Security Adviser Afghanistan from 2003 – 2005.

He started his security career in 1977 with the New Zealand Defence Force and served in Australia, Bougainville, Fiji, Egypt and Iran in a range of operational assignments. Mr Smith is a graduate of the Australian Command and Staff College and has a post graduate qualification in Management from ANU.

Mr Smith served in a number of senior staff and diplomatic positions during his career namely as the Senior New Zealand Officer for the Multinational Force and Observers in the Sinai, NZ Defence Attache for the South Pacific located in Fiji, Chief of Staff of the NZ Ready Reaction Brigade, Commanding Officer of the Ready Reaction Battalion and as a Deputy Director in the NZ Defence Force HQ Development Branch. Mr Smith transitioned from the military in 2003 to take up a position in Afghanistan with the UN.
Candra Samekto

Candra Samekto

Country Director and Representative for the Pacific Islands
Mr. Candra Samekto currently holds position as the Country Director and Representative for IFAD Pacific office, based in Suva Fiji. He manages IFAD Pacific portfolio across 13 Pacific Island Countries. Prior to this position, he was the Country Director for Afghanistan based in IFAD East Asia Sub-Regional Hub in Beijing, China. Mr. Samekto brings over 20 years of experiences in multi-sector development both in public and private sector organizations including IWC, BAPPENAS, UNESCAP, OXFAM, SIWI and Department of Environment and Resources Management of Queensland Government.

Mr Samekto holds PhD degree in Natural Resources Management and Policy from the University of Queensland, Australia, and Master of Science in Water Service Management from UNESCO-IHE Delft, the Netherlands. He has specialized knowledge in programme and portfolio management, natural resources management, public policy, as well as infrastructure development and financing. He also has strong technical background and experience in the design and implementation of investment programmes.
Christian Viegelahn is the Officer-in-Charge of the ILO Office for Pacific Island Countries in Suva

Christian Viegelahn

Director a.i.
Christian Viegelahn is the Officer-in-Charge of the ILO Office for Pacific Island Countries in Suva, covering eleven ILO member states in the Pacific, including Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. He is also Senior Employment Specialist and provides technical advice to policymakers and leaders of employers’ and workers’ organizations in the subregion on employment and decent work. He joined the ILO’s Pacific Office in early 2023.

Christian Viegelahn is with the ILO since 2011. He had different roles as Economist at ILO’s Research Department in Geneva. In 2018, he became the Labour Economist of ILO’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok. In these different capacities, Christian conducted research on labour economics, the future of work, international trade, global value chains and macroeconomics. Christian has been regularly leading the production of ILO reports. His research resulted in more than fifty publications, including articles in peer reviewed journals such as the Journal of International Economics or the International Labour Review.

Christian Viegelahn holds a PhD in Economics from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium.
Damian Cardona

Damian Cardona

Director of the United Nations Information Centre
Mr. Cardona has more than 26 years of experience in strategic communications, crisis communications, outreach and campaigns within the United Nations system. Before his appointment to Canberra, he served as United Nations Information Centre Director in Dakar, Senegal (covering French-speaking Africa) and in Bogota (covering Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela). In 2021, he was seconded to the United Nations Verification Mission in Colombia as Chief of Strategic Communications and Public Information.

Having served in peacekeeping missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mali and Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mr. Cardona was also Chief of Media Relations and Spokesperson for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and Special Adviser to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General.

Before joining the United Nations, Mr. Cardona was based in Amman, Jordan, from 1998 to 2002 as Regional Middle East Communications Delegate for the International Federation
of the Red Cross (IFRC). He had been the Director of International Relations for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization-sponsored Universal Forum of
Cultures Barcelona 2004.

Mr. Cardona holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Barcelona and master’s degree on international relations from the Institut d’Études Politiques in
Grenoble, France.

He is fluent in English, French, Spanish and Catalan, and has a good working knowledge of Haitian Creole, Italian and Portuguese.

Dr Howard Sobel

World Health Organization (WHO) Representative for Solomon Islands.
Dr Howard L Sobel is an internist, pediatrician and preventive medicine physician. He is currently the World Health Organization (WHO) Representative for Solomon Islands.

Dr Sobel’s work has taken him around the world, including WHO Headquarters (Switzerland, HIV), China (SARS), Guyana (immunization), Ghana (immunization), Philippines and Cambodia (maternal and child health, immunization and nutrition). Most recently, he was Coordinator for Maternal and Child Health, Quality and Safety, Safe and Affordable Surgery, Infection Prevention and Control at the WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific. He was deployed to Lao People’s Democratic Republic as acting Head of Office during the COVID-19 response in 2020.

Dr Sobel focuses on operationalizing and scaling up evidence-based programs that save lives across the lifespan in low and middle-income countries. He has more than 50 internationally peer-reviewed publications and 20 WHO publications and has been part of editorial review boards and conducted manuscript reviews for many journals. Dr. Sobel gained his undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech in Engineering, a Master of Science in Engineering at Case Western Reserve University, Medical Doctorate at Medical College of Virginia, Master of Public Health at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health (where he was Chief Resident and instructor), and a PhD at Ghent University, Belgium.
Dr Jacobs

Dr Mark Jacobs

WHO Representative/Director, Pacific Technical Support
Dr Mark Jacobs is the Director of Pacific Technical Support and WHO Representative to the South Pacific. He was appointed in this position in August 2021. Prior to this, he has held a series of senior public health leadership roles.

Dr Jacobs was previously the WHO Representative to Lao People’s Democratic Republic from November 2018 to August 2021. From May to October 2018, Dr Jacobs was Acting Director of Programme Management for WHO in the Western Pacific Region. He was also previously the Director of Communicable Diseases in the Region for 5 years.

Before joining WHO, he was New Zealand’s Director of Public Health for 9 years and managed the Public Health Programme at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community for 3 years. He also spent several years in Director of Public Health roles for state health authorities in Australia.

Dr Jacobs’ interests include developing healthy public policy, strengthening disease surveillance, strengthening all hazards emergency preparedness, and working across sectors to improve health. He holds a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, a Graduate Diploma in Health Services Management and a Master of Public Health

Head of Pacific Sub-Regional Office

Gabrielle (Gabby) Emery

Head of Pacific Sub-Regional Office
Ms Gabrielle (Gabby) Emery, a citizen of Aotearoa New Zealand, was appointed to the position of UNDRR Head of Pacific Subregional Office in January 2022 and is based in Suva, Fiji. As the UNDRR Pacific Representative, she oversees UNDRR support to Pacific Island countries and regional organisations.

Prior to this current appointment, Gabby was the head of the disaster law programme with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent in Asia Pacific. She brings extensive experience working with governments, partners and local actors to develop, revise and support implementation of climate, disaster and humanitarian laws and policies in the region, including many countries in the Pacific.

Gabby has also served as the policy and advocacy manager for New Zealand Red Cross, working on issues of international humanitarian law and refugee services in New Zealand. She was also humanitarian and development advisor for the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs based out of New York. Gabby holds a master’s in international human rights law, and undergraduate degrees in Law and Arts. She is married with three children, and several adopted street dogs.

Heike Alefsen

Regional Representative OHCHR Regional Office for the Pacific (ROP)
Heike Alefsen has almost 30 years of human rights, legal, political and development work experience with the United Nations, the Council of Europe and civil society. Until 2020, she was Senior Human Rights Adviser to the UN Country Team in Bangladesh and to the UN Development Group Asia-Pacific in Bangkok.

As Deputy Head of the OHCHR Regional Office for South-East Asia, she established a country programme for Myanmar and coordinated policy and information of the Human Rights Council’s special procedures at OHCHR Geneva. She also served with the UN Division for the Advancement of Women and the UN Development Fund for Women in New York, as Council of Europe Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and with Amnesty International’s Legal Office in London.
Iori Kato

Iori Kato

Director and Representative United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Pacific
Mr. Iori KATO is the Director & Representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Pacific Island Countries, a position he assumed in August 2022. Mr. KATO has spent the last 20 years in UNDP, IOM and UNFPA.

Mr. Kato was previously UNFPA's Representative for the Philippines from 2018-2020, until he was seconded to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Headquarters in Geneva as Senior Regional Advisor to the Director-General for Asia and the Pacific. Prior to functioning as Representative for the Philippines, Iori was Deputy Representative in Bangladesh from 2014-2018 where he also served as Representative a.i. and spearheaded the start-up and scale-up of UNFPA’s humanitarian response to the Rohingya refugee crisis.

Prior to working for UNFPA, Mr. Kato worked as UN Regional Coordination Specialist at the UNDG Asia-Pacific Secretariat in Bangkok from 2012 to 2014. Iori also worked for UNDP from 2002 to 2012 in various capacities, including as Assistant Resident Representative in Lao PDR and Special Assistant to Regional Director for Asia-Pacific among other positions. Prior to joining the UN system, Iori worked as a newspaper writer and editor in his home country Japan.

Mr. Kato holds a master’s degree of International Affairs from Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs, New York, and a Bachelor’s degree from International Christian University, Tokyo.
Regional Coordinator

Jayvee Santos

Regional Coordinator for the Pacific for ASYCUDA
Jayvee is the Regional Coordinator for the Pacific for ASYCUDA, the largest UNCTAD technical cooperation programme. He has 20+ years experience in customs automation and modernization working in 20 country projects in Asia-Pacific. Jayvee’s office currently supports 12 Pacific countries and territory.
Jinhua Zhang

Jinhua Zhang

Senior Coordination Officer
Mr. Jinhua Zhang, a national of China, has extensive experience in UNEP particularly in the Asia-Pacific region where he has worked for the last 19 years. Prior to this role, Mr. Zhang was Regional Sub-programme Coordinator, responsible for the implementation and delivery of the UNEP Science-Policy foundational programme in Asia and the Pacific. With an educational background in land resources inventory and quantitative land evaluation, Mr. Zhang has been working on integrated environmental assessment, environmental indicators, data and information management, and building partnership.

With this new role, Mr. Zhang coordinates UNEP work in the Pacific region, covering: Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu & Vanuatu.

Jonathan Veitch

Mr. Jonathan Veitch, a citizen of the United Kingdom, was appointed to the position of UNICEF Pacific Representative in August 2021 and is based in Suva, Fiji. As the UNICEF Pacific Representative, he oversees UNICEF’s programmes and operations in Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Prior to this current appointment, Mr. Veitch was the Deputy Director of the Private Fundraising and Partnerships Division at UNICEF, based in Geneva, responsible for the relationship with UNICEF’s 33 National Committees. He brings with him extensive experience working on children’s issues at the country and global level, especially in dealing with complex emergencies, peacebuilding and maternal and child health.

Mr. Veitch served as the UNICEF Representative in South Sudan from 2014 to 2016, and in Kyrgyzstan between 2010 to 2014. Prior to that Mr. Veitch was a Senior Programme Officer at the World Health Organisation in Geneva, responsible for liaison between the two organisations, especially in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

Mr. Veitch was the Senior Programme Officer for UNICEF in Sudan, and he also spent several years working in Somalia as the UNICEF head of Central and Southern zones. He has worked for the UN and NGOs in several other countries in Africa and Asia.

Mr. Veitch holds a Master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. He is married with three children and is currently in Fiji with his family.
Marie Pegie Cauchois

Marie Pegie Cauchois

UNODC Regional Anti-Corruption Adviser
Ms. Marie Pegie Cauchois has worked for the UN since 2012, first in UN Peace Keeping operations in South Sudan, Afghanistan, Central African Republic and Somalia, she then joined UNODC in 2017 and worked in Myanmar as Anti-Corruption Programme manager. She is now Regional Anti-Corruption Adviser and manages the Anti-Corruption Project in 14 Pacific Island countries. Before joining the UN, Ms. Pegie Cauchois worked in Vanuatu with AusAid/Australian Federal Police project, Transparency International and the Vanuatu Prime Minister’s Office.

Neha Mehta

Regional Manager
Neha oversees UNCDF's work across seven Pacific countries in areas such as climate and disaster risk insurance, digital economies and innovative finance, and the blue economy. Prior to joining UNCDF, she worked as a lawyer and social entrepreneur and brings over 16 years of experience in hedge funds, private equity, venture capital, ClimateTech, and FinTech to the role.
Director UNESCO Pacific


Director UNESCO Office for the Pacific
Nisha brings over 30 years of experiences in multi-sector development and humanitarian response to her current role. Nisha has worked internationally with Oxfam GB, Christian Aid, UNDP, UNIFEM and ILO in East and Horn of Africa, Arab States and South Asia, and with CSOs in India.

Renata Ram

Country Director
Renata Ram is the Country Director for the UNAIDS Pacific Office based in Fiji. Her role is to promote, support and provide guidance to national partners, civil society and the UN system in reaching Global AIDS targets by 2030 with a community-centred and human rights approach to rapidly scale up HIV services in Fiji & 13 Pacific Island Countries.

Before joining UNAIDS, Renata worked as a Programme Management Officer for the World Health Organization, working with the Ministry of Health in Fiji on the coordination of Fiji’s Zika-virus response. Renata has over 10 years’ experience of working in public health within the Pacific region for government, commercial, not-for profit, academic and international organizations.

She is a holder of a Master of Health Policy from the University of Sydney, post-graduate qualifications in Public Health, Health Services Management, Dental Therapy from the Fiji School of Medicine and Development Studies from the University of the South Pacific.

Xiangjun Yao

FAO Representative and Subregional Coordinator for the Pacific Islands
Ms Xiangjun Yao assumed her role as the FAO Sub Regional Coordinator for the Pacific in 2020. She oversees FAO’s work in providing policy advisory and technical assistance to its 14 Member Countries to improve food security, income-earning opportunities in agriculture, fisheries and forestry, and increasing resilience of small farmers and producers in the Pacific. She joined FAO Headquarters in June 2011 and has held leading roles in several technical divisions/offices within FAO.