Sir David Nabarro – Keynote Speaker

Strategic Director of 4SD, Chair of Global Health at Imperial’s Institute of Global Health Innovation, Winner of the 2018 World Food Prize

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Specialist Subjects

  • Forming Global Responses to Crises
  • Food Systems Transformation
  • Embracing the Sustainable Development Goals
  • Pandemic Preparedness and Response
  • Systems Leadership for Sustainable Development


  • English


Since gaining his medical qualification in 1974, David Nabarro has worked tirelessly – in communities and hospitals, within governments, civil society organisations and universities, and in United Nations programmes – to galvanise action to address complex challenges facing humanity. In his early career he worked on child health and nutrition programmes in Iraq, South Asia and East Africa. He taught at the London and Liverpool Schools of Tropical Medicine and then served as Chief Health and Population Adviser to the British Government’s Overseas Development Administration and as Director for Human Development in the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

David Nabarro joined the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1999. His responsibilities covered Malaria, AIDS and TB, and responses to crises. He then moved to the office of the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General in 2005 as Assistant Secretary-General. Initially he was responsible for coordinating UN system responses to avian and pandemic influenza but from 2008, this expanded to include the coordination of UN system action as Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Food Security and Nutrition. From 2010 he coordinated the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, and from 2014, he served as the former UN Secretary-General’s Envoy for the West Africa Ebola outbreak. From 2016-2017, Sir David Nabarro worked as Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Cholera in Haiti.

In 2018, Sir David Nabarro co-founded 4SD – Skills, Systems and Synergies for Sustainable Development (now known as 4SD Foundation) with Florence Lasbennes in Geneva, Switzerland. The organisation supports the development of capacities for systems change and accompanies global processes of change.

David has co-led the UN Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance (GCRG) in 2022-23 and has been Special Envoy of the WHO Director-General on COVID-19 in 2020-23. Sir David Nabarro also serves as Co-Director and Chair of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London where his focus is on people’s health and wellbeing in the climate emergency.

His work on food security and childhood malnutrition garnered him the World Food Prize in 2018. For his services to global health more broadly, Dr. Nabarro was made a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George in the 2023 King Charles III’s first New Year’s Honours list.

Popular Talks by Sir David Nabarro

Forming Global Responses to Crises

In global health, crises often strike unexpectedly, demanding swift and effective responses. Since 2002, David Nabarro has worked within the WorldHealth Organization and the United Nations in tackling these pressingchallenges head-on. From navigating the complexities of the currentfood-energy-finance polycrisis to past ongoing challenges like ebola virus disease and malaria,each situation offers valuable lessons. The early stages of any response are particularly daunting, characterised by the urgent need forcollective action amidst uncertainty. The focus is on joint working that leaves no-one behind.

Food Systems Transformation

Food systems are intricate webs influenced by various factors, making their transformation challenging. Single-issue solutions have limited impact as changes in one area affect the entire system. Interdisciplinary collaboration is crucial for meaningful change, recognizing diverse contexts. Beyond our plates, food weaves between our culture, economy, and the environment. Climate change and escalating crises highlight the urgent need for resilient food systems as well as the need to mitigate the impact of climate chaos on food. With government leadership in many locations, diverse stakeholders, from farmers to activists, scientists to business leaders, are connecting, dialoguing and collaborating, to address these complex challenges.

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