India's Disaster Management Head Appointed UN Asst Secretary-General
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India's Disaster Management Head Appointed UN Asst Secretary-General

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Kamal Kishore, who served as the head of India's National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), has been assigned the role of UN Assistant Secretary-General, tasked specifically with overseeing disaster risk reduction efforts. “Kishore brings to the position nearly three decades of experience in disaster risk reduction, climate action and sustainable development at the global, regional, national and local levels, having worked in government, the United Nations and civil society organizations”, Stephane Dujarric, the spokesperson for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.

Apart from his role as Assistant Secretary-General, Kishore will also assume the position of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, leading the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR). He takes over from Mami Mizutori of Japan.

Dujarric said, “As part of India’s Group of 20 (G20) presidency, he led the G20 Working Group on Disaster Risk Reduction and contributed to the development of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, launched by the Prime Minister of India (Narendra Modi) at the Climate Action Summit in 2019”.

Kishore, who as the head of NDMA has the rank of secretary to the government, joined the organization in 2015. The Geneva-headquartered UNDRR describes its mission as providing “leadership and support to accelerate global efforts in disaster risk reduction to achieve inclusive sustainable development and the goal of the Sendai Framework with the vision of a world where disaster risks no longer threaten the well-being of people and the future of the planet”.

UNDRR boasts a "flexible workforce of approximately 120 staff members" and maintains five regional offices globally. Kishore, originally trained as an architect, earned his bachelor’s degree from the Indian Institute of Technology in Roorkee. Additionally, he holds a master's degree in urban planning, land, and housing development from the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok.

He joins Atul Khare, another Indian, who holds the position of under-secretary-general for operational support in the senior management group, the highest tier of the UN hierarchy. Also serving in this group is Pramilla Patten, of Indian origin from Mauritius, who serves as the special representative on sexual violence in conflict. Out of Kishore’s thirty years of experience in disaster management and risk reduction, thirteen were spent with the UN in New Delhi, Geneva, and New York.

As the UN Development Programme’s regional advisor for South and South-West Asia, he provided support to “more than 10 countries on a range of public policy and institutional development issues while also advising them on the use of appropriate risk reduction tools and methodologies”, according to the NDMA.

He has also contributed to recovery efforts following significant disasters in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Iran, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka, as stated in his NDMA profile. In India, he collaborated with the Action Research Unit for Development (TARU) on post-disaster reconstruction and resettlement during the Uttarkashi earthquake in 1991 and the Latur earthquake in 1993.

Prior to his tenure at the UNDP, Kishore held positions as the Director of Information and Research, as well as the Manager of the Extreme Climate Events Programme, which focused on Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam, at the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre headquartered in Bangkok.