Alicia Bárcena has been a researcher and teacher of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), she has published several articles about sustainable development, public politics, environment, and public participation. She has a degree in biology and a master in Public Administration at Harvard University. She finished the master's course in environment and started her Ph.D. in economics by the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).
In the CEPAL, she was deputy executive secretary and Director of the Environmental and Human Settlements Division. In the United Nations, she worked as the sustainable development program coordinator of Latin American and the Caribbean from the United Nations Development Program (PNUD), as well as the United Nations Environmental Citizenship project coordinator (PNUMA).
In addition, she founded and directed the Earth Council, NGO located in Costa Rica, in charge of the follow-up of the agreements signed in the United Nations Conference of Environment and Development (CNUMAD), performed in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil in 1992.
She worked as Deputy General Secretary in the New York United Nations, fulfilling tasks as chief of staff.