Chief operating officer
Programme Assistant, Environmental Security and Sustainability


Vladimir Sakharov

Director, Environmental Emergency Preparedness

Dr. Vladimir Sakharov was born in Moscow, Russia on 30 April 1950.  He holds a Masters degree in Biochemistry and PhD in Ecology.  Mr. Sakharov has Russian and Swiss nationalities. He works in Russian, English and French and is based in Geneva, Switzerland.

Vladimir Sakharov has an extensive experience in disaster management, and has been a member of the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team (UNDAC) since 1996. He has held key positions with Russian governmental authorities dealing with international multilateral and bilateral environmental cooperation, and was an advisor to the Brundtland Commission on Sustainable Development.  Mr. Sakharov was serving as Co-Chairman of a bilateral Russian-Dutch Environment Commission. He has been involved in the mobilization and coordination of international humanitarian and environmental emergency assistance to many disasters and emergencies worldwide, including floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and industrial accidents.

Mr. Sakharov has 25 years’ work experience with the United Nations in various positions.  For several years, he worked with the UN Economic Commission for Europe, Division of Environment and Human Settlements in Geneva, Switzerland, where he was responsible for the development of cooperation in environmental impact assessment and transboundary water pollution. He moved to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in 1992 as the Deputy Director of the UN Centre for Urgent Environmental Assistance, dealing with industrial and technological accidents.  

In 1994, he joined the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) as the Chief of the Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit in Geneva, Switzerland, and in this capacity was responsible for many years for the provision of international assistance to countries affected by environmental emergencies, such as chemical accidents, oil spills, industrial and technological disasters, forest fires, acute water pollution, etc.

In 2002, in addition to his environmental emergency functions, Mr. Sakharov was appointed as the Deputy Chief of Emergency Services Branch, consisting of some 100 staff. Until his retirement, he was deeply involved in a broad range of humanitarian assistance matters, including civil-military cooperation, field assessment missions, rapid staff deployment and relations with Governments. He was also responsible for work planning, budgeting, reporting and staffing for the entire Branch.

In 2008, Mr. Sakharov also took over functions of the Chief, Emergency Preparedness Section of OCHA’s Emergency Services Branch. During the last 20 years, he was involved in managing international response to the entire spectrum on natural disasters and environmental emergencies, and was responsible for developing tools and mechanisms for emergency preparedness. Vladimir Sakharov has been deployed to the field for on-site assessment and emergency coordination, as leader or member of international teams, to many countries in all major regions of the world.

Having retired from UN in 2012, Mr. Sakharov joined Green Cross International in Geneva, as Director of Environmental Emergency Preparedness Programme.