Nitin Desai

Advisory Council, Member

Nitin Desai, a graduate of LSE, taught economics at two UK Universities, worked briefly in the private sector, had a long stint as a government official in India, where his last job was as Secretary & Chief Economic Adviser in the Finance Ministry. 

At the international level he worked in the Brundtland Commission where he drafted the key chapters dealing with sustainable development and then joined the UN in 1990 from where he retired in 2003 as the Under Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs. His major work in the UN was the organization of a series of global summits, notably the Rio Earth Summit (1992) as Maurice Strong’s deputy, the Copenhagen Social Development Summit (1995), the Monterrey Finance and Development Summit (2002) and the Johannesburg Sustainable Development Summit (2002). 

After his retirement he has been involved in a variety of public policy and NGO activities nationally and internationally dealing with economic research, sustainable development, climate risks and energy, sustainable livelihoods, human rights, security studies and internet governance. 

He is the Chair of the Governing Council of The Energy & Resources Institute (TERI). He writes a monthly column in the Business Standard, a daily newspaper. His writings are accessible at