Retired after 30 years in the United Nations system, Mr. Coutts’s most recent assignment was serving 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.
Comoros is a multiple-island country in the South West Indian Ocean. Post-conflict Comoros is considered “fragile,” food insecure and severely climate-change affected with a highly vulnerable population and little resilience in the event of natural disasters. As Head of the UN system in Comoros 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 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, helped establish the Institute for Hunger Solutions at Auburn, and supported Universities Fighting World Hunger (UFWH), a joint partnership with WFP and Auburn University as well as 180 university members in North America and around the world. While posted at Auburn University, he also managed WFP’s partner role with UFWH.
In 2020 the World Food Programme was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its work ending hunger around the world. As Special Advisor on Child Hunger to WFP’s Executive Director, Mr. Coutts was 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 developed by WFP in conjunction with UNICEF and the World Bank. 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, including 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. He has worked with UN peacekeeping operations in Africa. He 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. He 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.
Diplomat in Residence (Rtd)