Ambassador René Holenstein completed his studies in history and romance philology at the University of Zurich with a PhD in history. After his studies he has been working for seven years in Swiss non-governmental organizations for development projects in Central America and Southern Africa. From 1987 to 1988 he worked for the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) in Burkina Faso. Between 1991 and 1997 he was senior assistant and lecturer at the Post Graduate Studies on Developing Countries at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ).
In 1997 he joined the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), where he worked from 1997 to 2001 as the Deputy Country Director at the Swiss Cooperation Office in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso). From 2001 to 2006 Mr. Holenstein was Country Director of the Swiss Cooperation Office in Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina). After his return to headquarters he became head of SDC’s Governance Division in Berne and served for several years as the Chairperson of the OECD/DAC’s Network on Governance. From 2008 he was acting as head of the Multilateral Division of Switzerland’s Humanitarian Aid, since
2011 in the position of Deputy Vice-Director General. From November 2013 to July 2017, Mr. René Holenstein served as the Ambassador of Switzerland to the Kyrgyz Republic. He assumed his position as the Ambassador of Switzerland to Bangladesh on 26 September 2017.
Mr. Holenstein is also the author of several books that give voices to prominent people in various countries who have helped make progress in development matters. He is married and speaks German, French, Spanish, English and Russian.