Cousin, currently the US representative to the UN agencies for food and agriculture in Rome, will assume the executive director post in April when Sheeran becomes the new vice chairman of the World Economic Forum in Geneva.
Cousin was appointed to her five-year term by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN Food and Agriculture Organization Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva.
“Leading WFP is a great honor and a critical link to the world’s most vulnerable,” outgoing executive director Sheeran said.
“I offer every support to Ertharin Cousin and wish her the greatest success at this critical time for the world’s most vulnerable nations and people.”
Founded in 1960, the UN’s food aid branch, headquartered in Rome, is the largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger worldwide with almost 10,000 staff.
The World Food Programme distributes millions of tons of aid each year to more than 100 million people in more than 70 countries, including emergency emergency operations in conflict zones like Somalia and Sudan.