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Giovanni Di Cola

Special Adviser to the Deputy Director General for Field Operations and Partnerships

ORGANISATION: International Labour Office, ILO


A citizen of Italy, Giovanni Di Cola has served in four UN agencies, including the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the International Labour Office (ILO), with assignments at the UN Secretariat to implement the UN Reform.  

In April 2015, Di Cola was appointed Special Adviser in the Office of the Deputy Director General for Field Operations and Partnerships at the headquarters of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Geneva. In this position, he deals with multilateral affairs, Sustainable Development Goals, mega sporting events and human rights platforms, where he represents the ILO.

Prior to this appointment, he undertook field assignments in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean in national (UNICEF), sub-regional (ILO) and regional offices (UNFPA-UNESCO and ILO). His most recent field position was in Trinidad and Tobago as Director of the ILO Office and Decent Work Team, covering the Caribbean region. Throughout his tenure, he has worked on strategic programming, resource mobilisation, gender, technical cooperation, partnerships and management.

He represented the ILO in the UN Task Force, contributed to the UN Secretary-General Report on Sport for Development and Peace and assisted the UN Special Adviser on engaging the world of sport and UN agencies.

Di Cola created a network of universities around local economic development as part of an ILO inter-regional programme, Universitas, which built partnerships across local and national training institutions, universities, international organisations and sports partners. He served as Coordinator of Universitas from 2001 to 2009.

He has authored books and articles on skills for employability through sport and has provided advice to sports federations over the years on matters of development cooperation, common frameworks and sustainability.

Di Cola studied in Rome and Paris, earning a Laurea Cum Laude, four-year bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of Rome La Sapienza, a master’s degree (DEA) from Sciences Politiques Paris in Soviet Studies and a PhD in Development Economics from the University of Paris-Ouest (France).


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Using the unique power of sport to bring people together, the Olympism in Action Forum will see a range of global players, including Olympic Movement stakeholders, athletes, private and public sector leaders, NGO representatives, academics, artists and the media come together to talk on topical contemporary issues. Chosen because of their ability to effect change and their wide range of sometimes differing opinions, the speakers will lead lively debates and seek to challenge received wisdom to inspire new ways of thinking.

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