Elizabeth Ryan

Global Advisor

Elizabeth Ryan is a Global Advisor to the United Nations Global Compact – Cities Programme, extending from her position as Deputy Director which she held from 2011 to 2018.

Elizabeth is a passionate advocate and lobbyist for equity. She has over 14 years’ experience in partnership development, project management, sustainable economic development, capacity building and community engagement. Her unique skill set centres on the development of partnerships – bringing together diverse groups from across sectors for collaborative action – and underpinning collaboration with the strategic use of communication campaigns and platforms.

In her Deputy Director role at the UN Global Compact – Cities Programme, she built the Cities Programme from a project of innovating cities to an extensive international network; working with city and regional governments, United Nations agencies, private sector and civil society organisations and city participants of the United Nations Global Compact – from 35+ countries across the world – to advance sustainable urban development.

Elizabeth is passionate about cultural and linguistic inclusion and led the considerable growth of the Cities Programme in Latin America and the Caribbean (2012-2016) introducing multi lingual communication and publishing and establishing local representation in Brazil, through the Brazil Country Contact point role, then Southern Brazil Centre, supported by the Paraná government and Regional Office in São Paulo. The engagement in South American was supported by her own development of Spanish language skills, a multi-lingual internship team and dedicated translators. Her key achievements in the continent included the lengthy research project and promotion of the replicable cross-sectoral model of the Sustainability and Citizenship Networks of Porto Alegre 

Elizabeth had a mobilizing role in the United Nations 2030 Global Development Agenda, engaging cities and partners in the preparation for and implementation of the Agenda. She led delivery of the United Nations Global Compact’s Rio+20 Cities and Urbanisation stream in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2012); a suite of events at World Urban Forum 7 in Medellín, Colombia (2014); United Nations Global Compact representation at Habitat III in Quito, Ecuador (2016); and more recently at the World Urban Forum 9 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (2018).

Elizabeth broadened the breadth and impact of the Cities Programme through establishing the Cities Programme’s global internship program, urban scholars program, developing two customised websites and building a global relationship management system.

Elizabeth’s equity work in Australia has been focused on sustainable economic development and equitable labour force participation. Prior to her role at the UN Global Compact – Cities Programme, she built and facilitated a task force of private sector, local government and educators in Melbourne’s north (six Local Government Areas) to bridge industry skill shortages and provide employment pathways for vulnerable youth. Programs developed by this group continue today.

Elizabeth worked for two years with the Equity Research Centre, an advisory body to the Victorian State government. She conducted ongoing labour market research, tracking and providing advice on the employment and education participation of women, migrants, youth and people with a disability. She also developed and delivered customised capacity development programs for women in regional Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and migrant women from the Horn of Africa.

Elizabeth has also worked as an educator in tourism and hospitality in regional NSW, training secondary school students, people returning to work, apprentices and industry professionals. Her tertiary qualifications are in business management, specifically in tourism for regional development.

More recently, Elizabeth had an industry engagement management role with RMIT University, creating partnerships between the private sector and academia for shared benefit research and collaborative projects.