Mexican diplomat and biologist Alicia Bárcena Ibarra became today the new co-chair of the International Resource Panel (IRP), a body of leading natural resource scientists and experts, hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Bárcena, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, replaces renowned sustainable development specialist Ashok Khosla, who is stepping down as co-chair but who will remain with the IRP as a Panel member.

"I am very grateful to Ashok Khosla for his commitment, guidance, and dedication to the IRP in its formative years and warmly welcome his decision to remain as a member, " said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of UNEP. "It is with great pleasure that I welcome Alicia Bárcena, who I know will, together with the IRP's co-chair Janez Potočnik, provide insightful leadership to the future work of the Panel."

Former European Union Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik has been a co-chair of the IRP since November 2014.

The IRP, which is meeting this week in Cape Town, provides independent, coherent and authoritative scientific studies and assessments on the sustainable use and management of natural resources and in particular their environmental impacts. These have topics ranging from biofuels, metal recycling and international trade in natural resources to sustainable land use, food systems and the potential for decoupling resource use from environmental degradation.