The election of the new Presidium took place today, Saturday, 30 June, at the Helvetas General Assembly at the Aquatis in Lausanne. Former member of the Swiss Parliament Therese Frösch was unanimously elected as the new President of Helvetas, succeeding Elmar Ledergerber.
Therese Frösch, an experienced politician, had already been Helvetas Vice President for five years. For many years, she has worked to address social and environmental issues in Switzerland and globally.
Therese Frösch is delighted about her role as President: "Contemporary development cooperation means supporting people in a concrete and measurable way and influencing politics and business in close cooperation with local partners in such a way that the poorest benefit. Helvetas works in the same way and not only benefits individuals, but also promotes sustainable change at the institutional level. I am pleased to support this as President and I am convinced that with our commitment we are contributing to creating real change in this world.”
Peter Niggli, a recognized development cooperation expert and former CEO of Alliance Sud, the working group of Swiss development organizations, has been a member of Helvetas' Board of Directors for three years. He will take over the vice-presidency from Therese Frösch and will continue to contribute his development policy expertise. "To make a lasting difference to the people of the global South, we need solidarity. Budget cuts in development cooperation must be stopped. In addition, Swiss policies must be coherent, i.e. the trade and financial policy must not limit the opportunities for poorer countries."
Jörg Frieden, an expert in international cooperation who joined the Helvetas Board of Directors, has been active in development and migration policy for over 30 years. He was Vice-Director of the Federal Office for Migration, Head of SDC Global Cooperation, Swiss Executive Director of the World Bank, SDC Director in Mozambique and Nepal and Head of the Department for East and South Africa. In the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, Frieden acted as advisor to member of the Swiss Federal Council Micheline Calmy-Rey, and most recently as Swiss Ambassador to Nepal.
At the same time, Elmar Ledergerber, who was President of Helvetas for six years and had previously chaired Intercooperation for 12 years, which subsequently merged with Helvetas. "My main motivation in development cooperation was my commitment to a fairer world," said the former member of the Swiss National Council and long-time Zurich Mayor. "A lot has changed during my time as President of Helvetas: today, all projects include work with or by local stakeholders in the partner country: We train local authorities, support civil society organizations and ensure that governments can incorporate our work into national development policies to bring about sustainable improvements for local people.” Elmar Ledergerber is proud of what he has achieved and is now looking forward to handing over his position to his experienced counterpart. "Having worked closely together, I know my successor Therese Frösch well, and I appreciate her very much."
The new composition of the Board and the presidency promises continuity and competence so that Helvetas can work further for a better and more self-determined life of the poorest and most disadvantaged people in the world.