Mark Lowcock

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sir Mark Lowcock
Mark Lowcock in 2018
United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator
In office
12 May 2017 (2017-05-12) – 19 July 2021 (2021-07-19)
Secretary-GeneralAntónio Guterres
Preceded byStephen O'Brien
Succeeded byMartin Griffiths
Permanent Secretary of the Department for International Development
In office
9 June 2011 (2011-06-09) – September 2017 (2017-09)
MonarchElizabeth II
Prime MinisterDavid Cameron
Theresa May
Personal details
Mark Andrew Lowcock

(1962-07-25) 25 July 1962 (age 61)
SpouseJulia Watson
EducationCulford School
Alma mater
OccupationEconomist, accountant

Sir Mark Andrew Lowcock[1] KCB (born 25 July 1962) is a British economist and accountant who served as the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator (the head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) between 2017 and 2021. Prior to his appointment by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on 12 May 2017, Lowcock was the Permanent Secretary of the Department for International Development (DFID) from June 2011 to September 2017.[2] He is currently a visiting professor in practice at the Department of International Development at the London School of Economics[3] and Distinguished Non-Resident Fellow at the Center for Global Development[4] in Washington, DC. He is also a Trustee/Director and vice-chair of The Howard Partnership Trust, a multi-academy trust of schools (including for children with learning disabilities) in Surrey.

Early life and education[edit]

Lowcock attended Culford School in Suffolk before attending Oxford University, where he graduated with a degree in economics and history. He was later awarded a Master's degree in economics from Birkbeck College, University of London, before moving to Boston to study economics and business as a graduate fellow.[5] He is a qualified accountant and a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy.[6]

Professional career[edit]

Lowcock at a DFID-Australian Aid Joint Liaison Office in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, 2013

Career in the UK[edit]

Lowcock joined the then Overseas Development Administration in 1985. He was the private secretary to Minister for Overseas Development Baroness Chalker of Wallasey from 1992 to 1994, the deputy head and head of the Department for International Development Regional Office for Central Africa from 1994 to 1997, the head of European Union Department from 1997 to 1999, the head of the Regional Office for East Africa, the director of finance and corporate performance from 2001 to 2003, the director general of corporate performance and knowledge sharing from 2003 to 2006, the director general of policy and international from 2006 to 2008, the director general of country programmes from 2008 to 2011.[7]

Lowcock was appointed Permanent Secretary of the Department for International Development on 9 June 2011.[8]

He has made speeches on development, in Delhi (on the future of international development), Karachi (on how to get economic growth in a changing world), Berlin (on development agencies and conflict) and Addis Ababa (on economic development in Ethiopia).[9] As of 2015, Lowcock was paid a salary of between £160,000 and £164,999 by the department, making him one of the 328 most highly paid people in the British public sector at that time.[10]

Lowcock oversaw the department during the period in which the UK increased its aid budget to 0.7% of Gross Domestic Product.[11] World leaders first pledged to meet the 0.7% target 35 years ago in a 1970 General Assembly Resolution.[12]

USAID Administrator Mark Andrew Green meeting Lowcock in 2019

Career with the UN[edit]

As the under-secretary-general and emergency relief coordinator (USG/ERC), he was responsible for the oversight of all emergencies requiring United Nations humanitarian assistance. He also acted as the central focal point for governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental relief activities. The ERC also leads the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), a unique inter-agency forum for coordination, policy development and decision-making involving the key United Nations and non-United Nations humanitarian partners. In a country affected by a disaster or conflict, the ERC may appoint a humanitarian coordinator (HC) to ensure response efforts are well organized. The HC works with government, international organizations, non-governmental organizations and affected communities[13]

Since 2019, Lowcock has been a member of the World Economic Forum High-Level Group on Humanitarian Investing, co-chaired by Børge Brende, Kristalina Georgieva and Peter Maurer.[14]

COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan[edit]

In his role as the UN's humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock coordinated the COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan (GHRP). The GHRP is the international community's primary fundraising vehicle to respond to the humanitarian impacts of the virus in low- and middle-income countries and support their efforts to fight it. It aggregates relevant COVID-19 appeals from across the UN System, includes inputs from NGOs and NGO consortiums, and reflects local organizations' role in the response. The GHRP complements other plans such as those developed by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the Global Fund's programme to safeguard work to combat AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and the Vaccine Alliance's (Gavi) work to keep future generations free from measles.

Nearly 250 million acutely vulnerable people across 63 countries are covered by the updated GHRP with needs totaling $10.3 billion. Activity funded by the GHRP includes the delivery of laboratory equipment to test for the virus, and treat those infected, the installation of handwashing stations in camps and settlements, public health information campaigns on how to prevent community transmission, the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line medical workers, training for support services around sexual violence and intimate partner violence, the delivery of food and nutrition programmes, and the creation of airbridges across Africa, Asia and Latin America for the movement of humanitarian workers and supplies.

Publishing career[edit]

In August 2020 Troubador Publishing announced the release in January 2021 of Lowcock's book Ten Generations, which they describe as "an extraordinary piece of social and family history". Gordon Brown has praised the book as "... a great achievement ..... eminently readable".[15]

Lowcock has written about his time at the UN in a book, Relief Chief: A Manifesto for Saving Lives in Dire Times, published by the Center for Global Development on May 17, 2022.[16] Rory Stewart described it as "A scrupulously honest, thoughtful testimony on what it takes to fight for effective humanitarian relief by one of the most distinguished international civil servants. Never preaching, avoiding jargon, alert to politics, nuance, and practicality, Lowcock draws strong, impressive, and wise conclusions on how the world could improve its response to the mounting tragedies which surround us."

Other activities[edit]

In January 2022 Lowcock was appointed to chair a Public Inquiry into the Sheffield street tree dispute. The inquiry held live-streamed public hearings in the autumn of 2022. A comprehensive report was published earlier this year.[20]


In 2011, Lowcock was appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB).[21] In the 2017 New Year Honours, he was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) for public service, particularly to International Development.[22]

Personal life[edit]

Lowcock is married to Julia Watson and has three children.[23]


  1. ^ "New Year's Honours list 2017" (PDF). Government Digital Service. 30 December 2016. p. 5. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
  2. ^ "Secretary-General Appoints Mark Lowcock of United Kingdom Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Emergency Relief Coordinator". United Nations.
  3. ^ "News". London School of Economics and Political Science. Retrieved 24 August 2021.
  4. ^ "Mark Lowcock". Center For Global Development. Retrieved 24 August 2021.
  5. ^ Chambers, Joshua (2 November 2011). Interview: Mark Lowcock. Civil Service World. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  6. ^ Read, Dave (18 December 2012). Mark Lowcock: The Man with a Plan Archived 21 May 2014 at the Wayback Machine Public Finance International. Retrieved 30 January 2014.
  7. ^ Government biography Permanent Secretary, Mark Lowcock, Biography. Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  8. ^ Government press release (9 June 2011). New top civil servant for DFID 28 January 2014.
  9. ^ Government speech transcript (16 October 2012). The Future of International Development Retrieved 30 January 2014.
  10. ^ "Senior officials 'high earners' salaries as at 30 September 2015 - GOV.UK". 17 December 2015. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
  11. ^ Dudman, Jane (14 March 2013). 'On your bike: partnership and engagement at DfID – interview' The Guardian. Retrieved 30 January 2014.
  12. ^ UN Millennium Project. ‘The 0.7% target: An in-depth look’ Archived 18 February 2015 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 30 January 2014.
  13. ^ "Ocha Leadership". 27 September 2016.
  14. ^ World Economic Forum 2019 Annual Meeting launching a new Humanitarian Investing Initiative World Economic Forum, press release of January 18, 2019.
  15. ^ "Ten Generations - Troubador Book Publishing".
  16. ^ Lowcock, Mark (17 May 2022). Relief Chief: A Manifesto for Saving Lives in Dire Times. ISBN 978-1944691097.
  17. ^ "CIPFA board". Retrieved 30 December 2022.
  18. ^ "Sir". Retrieved 30 December 2022.
  19. ^ Members International Gender Champions (IGC).
  20. ^ "Independent Inquiry into the Street Trees Dispute".
  21. ^ "LOWCOCK, Mark Andrew". Who's Who 2017. Oxford University Press. November 2016. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
  22. ^ "No. 61803". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2016. p. N3.
  23. ^ "MARK LOWCOCK Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator" (PDF). UNOCHA. September 2017.
Positions in intergovernmental organisations
Preceded by Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator
Succeeded by