Margaret WachenfeldMargaret Wachenfeld is an international lawyer and policy adviser with more than 25 years of experience, an interdisciplinary skill set and a global reach.  Margaret works at the leading edge of the convergence of sustainability, human rights and responsible business conduct.  She has expertise and experience in applying and linking key international developments and standards related to human rights, human development, good governance, and the environment to the work of international organisations and the private sector. 

Board of Directors Positions Margaret currently holds

  • Centro Regional de Empresas y Emprendimientos Responsables (CREER), Colombia

Other Advisory Positions Margaret currently holds

Previous Advisory Positions

  • Corporate Human Rights Benchmark - Co-Chair of Methdology Working Group
  • Global Reporting Initiative (GRI):  Margaret has been appointed by the Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB), GRI’s independent standard setting body, to serve on a Technical Committee to help review the GRI human rights-related Standards
  • OECD Advisory Group on Responsible Business Conduct in the Financial Sector: Member of the Advisory Group
  • UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)  – Accountability and Remedy Project – Parts I & II - Advisory Group of Experts
  • Alliance for Corporate Transparency - International Advisory Group
  • Business and Human Rights Resource Centre – International Advisory Group for the Renewable Energy Benchmark
  • Investor Alliance for Human Rights - Advisory Group on the Toolkit on the Investor Responsibility to Respect Human Rights
  • UNEP-WCMC Independent International Advisory Panel of the Development Corridors Partnership

Previous Positions

  • IHRB:  Most recently, Margaret was Director of Research and Legal Affairs at IHRB for five years where she led IHRB's research across a number of themes, including extractives and finance and integrating a legal dimension into business and human rights work.   She was the focal point for work with IHRB’s three regional centres in Myanmar, Colombia and Kenya. 
  • UNICEF: Prior to IHRB, Margaret worked at the UN for six years as a senior policy advisor to UNICEF, covering a wide range of child rights issues, including developing a workbook on children’s rights for the private sector.  
  • IFC: Margaret was recruited by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) (World Bank Group) to join a special unit of the Legal Department, working on the environmental and social dimensions of project finance transactions, including Global Environment Facility (GEF) projects in the area of biodiversity and renewable energy.  She moved to the IFC Environment and Social Development Department where she was a sustainability adviser, advising on the establishment of IFC’s carbon trading business and in charge of knowledge management.  Margaret later served as principal human rights advisor and was deeply involved in the development of the IFC Performance Standards that serve as the basis for the Equator Principles.  
  • Adviser to Multilateral Development Banks:  Margaret also worked as a consultant for IFC on human rights and gender issues, for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) on helping them develop their human rights policy and for the European Investment Bank (EIB) developing a training package for financial officers on environmental and social considerations in transactions.  
  • White & Case: A corporate lawyer, practicing law for eight years at White & Case, Margaret focused on environmental law and was an environmental adviser to several Central European governments as part of their early privatisation programmes and later in the newly emerging area of corporate social responsibility with Levi Strauss as a major client.  
  • Danish Institute for Human Rights: Margaret started her legal career as legal counsel to the Danish Institute for Human Rights.  


Margaret holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in biology from Wellesley College, a juris doctor (JD) and masters in international and comparative law (LLM) from Duke University School of Law in the US and a PhD in law (licentiat) from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

Core Areas of Expertise

  • Human rights
  • Sustainable business & responsible business conduct
  • Sustainable development & international environmental law