Kaori Kawarabayashi heads the United Nations Action for Cooperation Against Trafficking in Persons (UN-ACT), a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) regional project with offices across the six countries of the Greater Mekong Sub-Region. In addition to managing UN-ACT, she serves as the Asia-Pacific focal point for UNDP’s global efforts on migration and displacement.


Kaori has over 18 years of experience on international development issues in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Middle East and South America. Prior to her current position, Kaori led the Central Africa Region Country Advisor Team, covering crisis countries in UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Africa which included focal pointing for the Boko Haram crisis affecting cross-border issues including human trafficking. She also supported the strategic partnerships effort for the Africa region. In addition, she served as a member of the Senior Management Team heading programme management for UNDP South Sudan and subsequently headed the South Sudan Recovery Fund Technical Secretariat, a UN multi-donor trust fund. Other UNDP offices she has worked for include UNDP Jordan and UNDP’s Operations Support Group/Executive Office where she managed the Enterprise Risk Management Team. Her UN work in Asia includes managing strategic partnerships for the World Food Programme Regional Bureau for Asia. In addition, she has worked for international development organizations in Chile, Hungary, India, Mauritania, Mexico, Togo, and Turkey. Previously, Kaori worked in the private sector for Nomura and as an investment banker for Merrill Lynch in New York.


She holds a Masters in Public Administration/Economic Development (MPA) and a Masters in Business Administration (MBA), both from Harvard University. She has also studied at Georgetown University (USA), The London School of Economics and Political Science (UK), La Sorbonne (France) and Oxford (UK).