Diplomat in Residence (Rtd)
Recently retired after 30 years in the United Nations system, for the past three years, Mr. Coutts has served as the UN Resident Coordinator, UN Development Programme Representative (UNDP), and UNFPA Representative in the Union of the Comoros Islands in Africa. Currently, he has returned to Auburn University as an occasional guest lecturer and speaker.
As Head of the UN system in Comoros in a high-profile role in a post-conflict, “fragile”, food insecure, small island and multiple-island, Least Developed Country (LDC) in the South West Indian Ocean - also severely climate change-affected country with a highly vulnerable population with little resilience in the event of natural disasters, Mr. Coutts oversaw and managed UN “Delivering as One” country programme with 19 various UN resident (including Unicef and WHO) and non-resident agencies. He was also Chair of the National Donor Aid Coordination Committee on behalf of the Government of Comoros.
From 2008 to 2012, on sabbatical assignment from the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), Douglas Casson Coutts developed and taught Auburn’s first undergraduate course "World Hunger: Causes, Consequences and Responses" as well as the first Hunger Studies Capstone Senior Seminar. During this period, he designed a new Hunger Studies Minor area of study, helped to establish the Institute for Hunger Solutions at Auburn, while supporting "Universities Fighting World Hunger" (UFWH), a joint partnership with WFP and Auburn University with 180 university members in North America and around the world, and is a guest lecturer at UFWH member universities. While posted at Auburn University, he also managed WFP’s partner role with UFWH.
As Special Advisor on Child Hunger to WFP’s Executive Director, he was previously based from 2005-08 in Washington, D.C., and charged with working with institutions in North America as part of the new global Child Hunger Initiative being developed by WFP in conjunction with UNICEF and the World Bank. Within this framework, he was supporting efforts to launch an outreach and advocacy program with institutions of higher learning and was the WFP manager responsible for the WFP/Auburn University partnership and UFWH. He was also part of a team formulating a strategy for corporate partnership and fundraising development with the private sector in North America in support of WFP humanitarian and development operations worldwide.
Mr. Coutts has 27 years of experience with WFP, more recently as Country Director for Bangladesh, where he oversaw the organization’s single-largest development operation in the world – embracing integrated food security, school feeding and refugee operations, nutritional support and HIV/AIDS awareness/community health programs. He has represented WFP all over the world, including a stint as the UN’s first Humanitarian Coordinator for North Korea, responsible for implementing what at the time was WFP’s biggest emergency operation and he has worked with UN peacekeeping operations in Africa. He also served as WFP Country Director in Nepal and Namibia, and as WFP’s Representative to the United Nations, USA and Canada based at UN Headquarters in New York.
An Eagle Scout, he has been active in the Boy Scouts of America for many years as Scoutmaster of BSA troops abroad in Kathmandu, Nepal and Dhaka, Bangladesh. Mr. Coutts has also coached ice hockey and rollerblade hockey in Westchester County, NY, North Korea and Nepal. He is a musician regularly playing Irish traditional music in sessions.
Before joining the United Nations, Mr. Coutts worked as a founding member on the professional staff of the Select Committee on Hunger in the US House of Representatives, and as an economist with the US Department of Agriculture. Previously, he has also managed international education programmes at both Carnegie Mellon University and Georgetown University. He holds Masters’ degrees from the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University and Université Laval in Québec, Canada and a Bachelor’s Degree with honour from Michigan State University (Justin Morrill College). Mr. Coutts is the founding President of the “Friends of WFP” now known as “WFP USA”, a USA-based NGO in Washington, D.C.
School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
Originally from Nepal, Dr. Mahendra Joshi is a graduate of Auburn University, having earned his Ph.D. in 1997 for his work on the role of forests and other public policies in rural development. Soon after graduation, he was recruited by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in New York as Forestry Advisor. With that appointment, he began a 16-year career at the United Nations (UN).
Dr. Joshi also has an MS in Forest Resources from the University of Minnesota (1993) and a Diploma in Forestry from the Forest Research Institute and Colleges, India (1975).
At the UN, Dr. Joshi worked on international forest policy issues at the UNDP and the Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF, 1998-2000). He continued his work with the Secretariat of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF), under the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), from the time the UNFF was established in 2001 until his retirement in 2014 as Senior Programme Officer. As a result, he has extensive experience in intergovernmental negotiation dynamics, international development cooperation, capacity building, policy processes on forests and sustainable development issues, and engagement of non-state stakeholders.
Dr. Joshi prepared strategic and operational plans for the successful execution of the Forum sessions, beginning with the first, held in 2001, to the tenth in 2013. He prepared and coordinated the preparation of parliamentary and policy documents (among these, reports of the Secretary-General and notes of the Secretariat) for the sessions of the UNFF, as well as its predecessor, the IFF.
Dr. Joshi is recognized by his peers and representatives of Member States, international organizations, and stakeholder groups for his sound judgment, technical competency, dedication, sensitivity to the multi-cultural work environment, and results-oriented planning. He has a record in facilitating consensus building at the international level, along with experience in organization and planning of international conferences and meetings. Since his retirement, Dr. Joshi has been invited by a number of international organizations to conduct analytical assessments and advise on their policies and programs.
Prior to his move to the US for graduate studies, he worked with the forest service of Nepal for more than 16 years as a forest officer in the field, and as senior officer at the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation (1975-1991).
Currently affiliated with the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences of Auburn University as a visiting professor, Dr. Joshi makes his home in Auburn.