Varad Pande

Officer on Special Duty to India’s Minister for Rural Development
New Delhi, India

Contrary to popular perception, Sustainable Development is not synonymous with environmental protection – it is about ensuring that the world achieves a ‘triple-bottom line’, i.e., integrating the economic, social and environmental dimensions of development. So in some sense it includes every challenge of development - poverty eradication, energy security, reducing inequality, fighting climate change and biodiversity loss, to name a few. Sustainable development was famously defined by the Brundtland Commission Report in 1987 as development that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The elegance of this definition is what makes the concept so easy to agree on in principle, yet so difficult to implement and measure. Hence the endless debates on what we should aim for and what we have really achieved.

Seven years after graduating from MPA/ID, and well into my career, I’d say for someone with inquisitiveness and passion for international development and the intractable questions of poverty, this is THE programme. You get the toolkit, you get the professors with passion, pedigree and ground experience, and you get an awesome set of classmates with whom you can spend a lifetime talking about development. Of course the networks are invaluable; I still call upon our professors for advice/connections when I am lost. And to know that there is this amazing cohort of 60 classmates from 38 countries working around the globe that I can tap into any time, is very comforting.

Varad is the Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to India’s Minister for Rural Development where he advises the Minister on various issues including sustainable livelihoods, resilience, social security, water and sanitation. He is also a member of the Government of India’s Expert Group on Strategies for Low Carbon Inclusive Growth. Varad was designated as Advisor to Prof Abhijit Banerjee on the UN’s High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda and as the ‘sherpa’ of his Minister in the UN Secretary General’s High-level Panel on Global Sustainability. Before joining the Government, he was a Team Leader at the strategy firm Monitor Group. Varad has previously worked at the World Bank on governance decentralization with Professor Lant Pritchett.

Varad Pande, MPA/ID 2005 (India)

Varad Pande, MPA/ID 2005 (India)