Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Climate Change

January 2016 – Present

As one of the core advisers of the UN Secretary-General, Dr Nabarro helps to:

  • Promote implementation of the 2015 multilateral agreements on Sustainable Development, Financing for Development, Climate Action and Disaster Risk Reduction (a) within all nations; (b) among civil society, businesses, scientific community, investors, faith groups and creative community; and (c) across the United Nations system
  • Ensure early entry into force of COP 21 (Paris climate accord)
  • Promote effective UN system preparedness for, and response to, global health crises (including Zika, cholera, Ebola virus disease and yellow fever)
  • Oversee the UN’s contribution to Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (through Every Woman Every Child), as well as the UN Global Pulse (Use of Big-Data in decision-making), UN Democracy Fund and UN Office for Partnerships
  • Ensure coordinated and comprehensive UN system action on (a) food security and (b) scaling-up nutrition
  • Oversee the new approach for the UN system’s response to Cholera in Haiti

He mobilizes resources for, and manages, the teams that support this work in the office of the Secretary-General. 

Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General for Food Security and Nutrition

November 2009 – Present

Responsibilities are to:

  • Align UN system action on people’s food security, livelihood resilience and sustainable agriculture in the face of changing climates
  • Support functioning of the Committee on World Food Security as principal multi-stakeholder platform for universal food security and nutrition
  • Oversee UN Secretary-General’s Zero Hunger Challenge to champion comprehensive food security, nutrition, sustainable agriculture and food systems, resilience and inclusivity. 

Chair, Advisory Group on Reform of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Work in Outbreaks and Emergencies with Health and Humanitarian Consequences

July 2015 – January 2016

Working for the WHO Director-General David's responsibilities were to:

  • Lead a high-level Advisory Group to guide reform of WHO’s response to outbreaks and emergencies, prepare reports based on the group’s recommendations and advise on the manner of their implementation

Member of the WHO Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity (2016)

Commissioner 2013 - 2014

Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General on Ebola

August 2014 – December 2015

At the request of the UN Secretary-General the responsibilities were to:

  • Provide strategic direction of UN system response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
  • Establish and maintain the Global Ebola Response Coalition and the UN’s Ebola Information Centre.
  • Mobilize resources for the UN system Ebola response
  • Manage the UN Secretary General’s Ebola Response Multi-Partner Trust Fund (total resources USD $166m)
  • Oversee transition from the response phase to recovery

Coordinator of the Movement to Scale Up Nutrition

September 2010 – September 2014

Working for the UN Secretary-General the responsibilities were to:

  • Oversee this new multi-stakeholder movement of 55 countries and networks.
  • Provide the stewardship needed for the Movement to inspire political engagement, sustain multi-stakeholder collaboration, align the efforts of multiple actors and demonstrate significant impact

Coordinator of the UN System High Level Task Force on Food Security

April 2008 – April 2014

Working for the UN Secretary-General the responsibilities were to:

  • Coordinate the UN Secretariat’s High-Level Task Force on Global Food Security (HLTF) to ensure that the UN system and international financial institutions work together to offer robust and consistent responses to food insecurity
  • Convene and organize quarterly HLTF meetings, lead HLTF Senior Steering Group (SSG), produce Comprehensive Framework of Action for Food and Nutrition Security (2008, 2010), develop UN Secretary-General’s Zero Hunger Challenge (2012) and establish HLTF review (2012)

UN System Senior Coordinator for Avian and Human Influenza (Assistant Secretary-General)

September 2005-2014

Working for successive UN Secretaries-General the responsibilities were to:

  • Ensure the UN system makes effective and coordinated responses to the worldwide avian influenza outbreak - coordinating among governments, UN agencies and civil society; supporting a global partnership on avian and pandemic influenza; and linking between sectors and within countries;
  • Support effective local and global preparations for human influenza pandemics so as to reduce mortality rates, minimize economic disruption and limit their social impact

Head of WHO’s Health Emergencies group (Health Action in Crises), and Special Representative of Director-General


  • Build the response capacity of WHO’s Health Emergencies group at local, national and regional level
  • Increase WHO participation in the humanitarian Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC)

Head, WHO Cluster on Sustainable Development and Healthy Environments


  • Lead WHO’s work on environmental health, food safety, nutrition and health emergencies

Executive Director, Office of the WHO Director General


  • Manage the front office of Director-General (DG) Gro Harlem Brundtland and undertake strategic and operational functions on behalf of DG (including WHO contribution to the Global Fund to fight AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria and the Commission on Macroeconomics and Health)

Executive Director, WHO Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Programme


  • Transform and amplify WHO’s contribution to Malaria control

Director, Human Development, Chief Health and Population Adviser, UK Government Department for International Development (Formerly Overseas Development Administration)

1990 - 1999

  • Lead the transformation of UK Government contribution to International Health and Human Development

Additional positions

  • Coordinator, UK Government Relief for Northern Iraq (1991)
  • Health and Population Adviser, East Africa, UK Government Overseas Development Administration (1989-90)
  • Senior Lecturer in International Health, Liverpool University Medical School (and Hon Consultant, Mersey Regional Health Authority) (1985-89)
  • Regional Medical Adviser (South Asia), Save the Children Fund, (1982-85)
  • Lecturer in Nutrition and Public Health, London University (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) (1980-82)
  • District Medical Officer, Dhankuta, East Nepal, Save the Children (1977-79)
  • House Officer and Senior House Officer posts in the National Health Service (Hillingdon, Northampton, Oxford) (1975-77)
  • Medical Officer, Relief Expedition, North Iraq (Save the Children) (1974-75)