Nitin Desai is one of the world leaders in policy making experience in the realm of sustainable development and is at the forefront of the global fight against climate change. He is a member of the Indian Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change.
Mr Desai began his government career in 1973 in the Indian Planning Commission. In 1983 he was named as Secretary of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India and in 1988 he took charge as the Chief Economic Adviser in the Ministry of Finance of the Government of India.
From 1985 to 1987 he served as Senior Economic Adviser for the World Commission on Environment and Development.
He joined the UN in 1990 as Deputy Secretary General of the Earth Summit that was held at Rio in June 1992. In early 1993 he was appointed as Head of the newly created Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development. In March 1997, Secretary-General Kofi Annan asked Mr Desai to coordinate, and subsequently head, the consolidated Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
In October 2001, Mr Desai acted as Secretary-General of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (2002 Johannesburg Summit). A special feature of this Summit was the focus on the developmental and environmental aspects of water, energy, agriculture, health and bio-diversity.
At the end of August 2003, Nitin Desai retired from the UN but continues his association with the UN as a Special Adviser to the Secretary General for Internet Governance and chairs a group charged with the responsibility of organizing the Internet Governance Forum mandated by the World Summit on the Information Society.
Nitin Desai received a bachelor's degree from the University of Bombay in 1962 and in 1965 earned a master's degree in Economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Mr Desai was a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Global Governance at the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2003-04. In July 2004 he was inducted as an Honorary Fellow of the London School of Economics and Political Science.
He is married and has two children.
Mr Desai’s first term of office expires in December 2011.