Ko Barrett

Ms. Ko Barrett was appointed as WMO Deputy Secretary-General in January 2024 and began her mandate on 1 April 2024. Prior to her appointment, Ms. Barrett served as the Senior Advisor for Climate at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In this role, she provided strategic advice and direction within NOAA to enable the Agency to align, integrate, and extend its capabilities to best provide the climate services needed to address the climate challenge. She represented NOAA’s interests in government-wide efforts to transform the economy and achieve US climate goals to reduce emissions and stabilize global temperature by mid-century.

In 2015, Ko Barrett was one of the first women elected to serve as Vice-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a role she held until July 2023. As Vice-chair, Ms. Barrett utilized her talent for facilitating consensus to advance the organization’s work. She championed the Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere, chaired the Gender Action Team, and led the Science Board for the Scholarship Program for scientists from developing countries. Her quotes on climate change and its impacts were featured in thousands of articles worldwide. 

For over 15 years, she represented the United States in delegations responsible for negotiating and adopting climate science and policy outcomes. In addition to her work with the IPCC, she served as a lead negotiator on adaptation and capacity building issues for the United States in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Ko Barrett is widely recognized as an expert on climate science and policy, particularly on issues related to climate impacts and strategies to help society adapt to a changing world.

Ms. Barrett joined the Senior Executive Service in 2016. She served as the Deputy Assistant Administrator for NOAA’s Research Programs for five years, following various leadership positions in its Climate Program Office for over a decade. Before joining NOAA in 2005, Ms. Barrett was the Director of the Global Climate Change Program at the US Agency for International Development, where she oversaw climate activities in more than 40 countries. 

Ms. Barrett has won multiple awards for her contributions to NOAA, the nation and our planet. These include the NOAA Administrator’s Awards in 2010 and 2015, the U.S. Department of Commerce Gold Award for Leadership in 2021, and the U.S. Department of State Meritorious Honor Award in 2011. She also shared a Nobel Peace Prize with members of the IPCC in 2007. In 2017, Ms. Barrett was the commencement speaker and received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of North Carolina - Asheville. In 2021, she received a Distinguished Presidential Rank Award, one of the most prestigious awards in the federal career civil service. Most recently, in 2022, the Global Landscape Forum included Ms. Barrett on its list of 16 Women Restoring the Earth.

Ms. Barrett holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies from the University of North Carolina – Asheville. There, she was named a University Scholar, Distinguished Research Scholar, and was elected a member of the Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society.  

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