David Nabarro: Inspiring people to work together for regenerative, equitable and just futures for people and planet.

Advice & Honours

Our Strategic Director and Co-Founder, Professor Sir David Nabarro, is one of the driving forces behind the creation of 4SD Foundation in 2018, alongside our Managing Director, Florence Lasbennes. With its focus on skills, systems, and synergies for sustainable development, 4SD accompanies leaders as they navigate their way through complex sustainability challenges, and to do this in ways that optimise societal impact and environmental integrity. They have inspired dozens of practitioners who make up the 4SD Alumni and continue to encourage more to join their vision and passion for leadership that embraces a living systems approach.

Dr David Nabarro has worked in International Development for more than four decades.  Throughout his career he has consistently focused on promoting equitable and resilient livelihoods through interdisciplinary and cross-sector working.  His specific emphasis is on ways to enable poorer people, for whom illness can have devastating impacts, to experience less illness and access effective health care.

David secured his medical qualification in 1974 and started out as a medical officer in the Middle East, then in South Asia.  His early career experiences with low-income communities who face multiple interconnected challenges led to him focusing on connecting different sectors and initiatives so they respond better to people’s needs.  He has since worked internationally in multiple clinical and public health roles within governments, NGOs and universities, and developed a career in international public health, food systems and sustainability. 

He has held positions in the UN system between 1999 and 2017, including acting as special representative of the UN secretary-general for Food Security and Nutrition and under-secretary-general on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Climate Change. He was given responsibility for coordinating responses to some of the most complex and challenging issues of our time.  These include tackling avian and human influenza, Ebola virus disease, people’s food insecurity and malnutrition, as well as transforming food systems, establishing the sustainable development agenda, and mainstreaming action on climate and nature.  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 appointed a knight in the 2023 UK new year honours list.

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.


In complement to his role as Strategic Director of 4SD Foundation, David serves as co-director 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.

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