Joanna Nurse

Joanna Nurse head shot

Dr Joanna Nurse, Director General for Existential Security Threats


As a Director General to the InterAction Council, Joanna is strengthening global governance for security threats to life and human existence. This draws together InterAction Council initiatives that Joanna has led on, including a manifesto for the planetary emergency and a plan to prevent pandemics. To take this forward with partners, Joanna is advancing a Global Youth Security Council for Existential Threats with an intergenerational governance board, and designed a collaborative plan for strategic solutions to strengthen leadership and advocacy, enabled by a Global Futures Platform for Planet, People and Peace. As an international leader and diplomat, Joanna brings a wealth of networks and policy experience on strengthening multi-lateral governance to scale up solutions through sustainable multi-sector systems. This builds upon senior positions held within the UK Government, the United Nations and the Commonwealth.

Previously, having led the Health and Education sectors for the Commonwealth, Joanna provided strategic leadership to Ministers and Heads of Government to enhance global security, peace and sustainable development. In these roles she led a series of Ministerial conferences, statements, policies, strategies and delivery plans which were taken forward with multiple partners. Whilst working for the WHO Joanna led a European Action Plan to Strengthen Public Health and advanced multi-country initiatives across SE Europe, Russia and Central Asia, including on Climate Change. As a key architect for the World Federation of Public Health Associations’ Global Charter for the Public’s Health, Joanna directed the translation of the Charter into a series of policy tools, transforming and modernising delivery through the creation of digital knowledge and innovation hubs.

As a Senior Civil Servant for the UK Government, Joanna led policies for the promotion of well-being, and oversaw the national heatwave and cold weather warning systems. Joanna is adept at designing multi-disciplinary strategies, drawing upon the development and delivery of evidence-based policies ranging across the Sustainable Development Goal domains of People, Planet, Prosperity and Peace. Over her career, Joanna has gained experience at local, regional, national and international levels across over 100 countries. She is widely published on global challenges and policy solutions, including her book on ‘Leadership Lessons from a Global Health Crisis – from the Pandemic to the Climate Emergency’ advocating for a transformed security infrastructure. Joanna initially qualified as a medical doctor, practiced in Primary Health Care, before specialising in Public Health and gaining a PhD on policy for the prevention of violence. In recognition of her achievements, Joanna has been given honorary professorships and made a Fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science, where she chairs a group on Existential Threats and Risks to All.

Joanna may be contacted at drjonurse[at]