In October 2021, Daniel Endres, Chair of the Board of Trustees of Switzerland for UNHCR since its inception, was appointed Regional Coordinator of the UN Humanitarian Response in East Africa by Secretary General António Guterres. Today we are pleased to announce the appointment of Cédric Anker as the new Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Switzerland for UNHCR.
Tell us about your background
Born in Geneva in 1967, I spent a good part of my compulsory schooling a few hundred metres from the UNHCR headquarters, respectively from the current Switzerland for UNHCR offices. After a first banking experience with UBS, I had the chance to go to Australia to learn English for a few months. The attraction of distant horizons made me continue my journey around the globe for more than two and a half years, notably in Asia and North and South America.
Back in Switzerland for a few years, Crédit Suisse gave me the opportunity to go to the International Bankers School in Chicago, an MBA program that opened the doors for me to a job with Crédit Suisse First Boston in New York. As it was time to start a family, we returned to Switzerland and our two boys are now 15 and 19 years old.
My professional career has taken me to the General Management of several banks and I am now on the Executive Committee of Bordier et Cie.
As a member of the Board of Trustees, you said
"If my involvement with Switzerland for UNHCR can make the life of just one refugee a little more comfortable, I would be very well rewarded."
What impact will your new role have on your commitment to refugees ?
Every member of a Board of Trustees brings energy, skills and experience. Since I joined the Board, I have engaged as best I can while educating myself on the refugee cause through several online courses at Columbia, Harvard and the University of London. My new position as President will not change my motivation, it will simply mobilise me a little more and give me an additional opportunity to share my management experience.
What role can Switzerland play in mobilising resources and opinions for UNHCR's mission and programmes?
Switzerland has a long history of humanitarian aid and philanthropy in general. It has a record number of foundations (>13,000 by the end of 2020) and also benefits from many refugees, migrants or foreigners who have come to contribute their skills and sometimes make a fortune. Many Swiss people, including myself, understand the incredible good fortune they have had to be born in a country that is peaceful, organised, secure and provides all the opportunities that a human being should have. The high level of skills, education and openness means that together we can contribute to UNHCR's programmes, whether it is by giving money, time or skills. Giving is above all receiving!
Where do you see Switzerland for UNHCR in 5 years?
In today's environment, where we are surrounded by many humanitarian foundations, our priority objective is to make ourselves known in the different linguistic regions of the country. In addition to our headquarters in Geneva, we have already recruited staff in Zurich and soon in Ticino. Although we are still sometimes in "start-up mode", we have already proved that we are capable of raising emergency funds, particularly following the Afghan crisis, and we are building our network of donors day by day, whatever their financial capacity. Our goal is to enable 200,000 Swiss men and women to support us in our mission within the next five years. Of equal importance, we want to contribute to the local population's understanding of the social issues that refugees represent. With 84 million refugees in the world, about 2 million more than last year, we unfortunately have a lot of work to do, not to mention the growing effect of climate change on forced displacement...