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The Secretariat supports the development and implementation of the Platform’s activities. Under the guidance of the Chair and the Steering Group, the Secretariat works with States, agencies and other stakeholders interested in implementing the recommendations of the Protection Agenda at national, regional and global levels. The Secretariat is funded by the generous contribution of Germany and is hosted by UNOPS in Geneva, Switzerland.

Meet the members of the Secretariat below and do not hesitate to get in touch!

Atle Solberg, Head of the Secretariat

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Atle is a political scientist from Norway and he was the Head of the Nansen Initiative Secretariat, the predecessor of the Platform on Disaster Displacement, from 2012 to 2015. His background is primarily from international humanitarian action and from working in the context of displacement (both in conflict and natural hazard situations). He has worked for the UNHCR and UN OCHA in Switzerland, the Balkans and in Central America, and for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in the Balkans, Indonesia and Colombia. He has research and teaching experience from the University of Bergen on humanitarian issues as well as on the protection of unaccompanied minors. Atle has also undertaken evaluation of humanitarian aid and worked as a consultant both with a focus on Norway as well as on the post-conflict recovery situation in the Balkans and Central America.

Atle is the Head of the Secretariat of the Platform on Disaster Displacement.

Sarah Koeltzow, Policy Officer

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Sarah has a Bachelor Degree in Public Management and Governance from Zeppelin University, Germany, and a Master Degree in Development Studies from the Graduate Institute, Geneva. Prior to joining PDD, she has worked as Humanitarian Affairs Officer at the German Mission to the UN in Geneva, also covering DRR, Internet Governance, Climate Change/Environment and Human Rights portfolios. Sarah speaks German, English, French and Spanish. She is passionate about local public administration and thrives on good food, good reads and good friends. Each year, as winter approaches, she considers the possibility of ‘climate-induced migration’ to warmer places.

Sarah is the Policy Officer of the Secretariat of the Platform on Disaster Displacement.

Timo Schmidt, Associate Policy Officer

Timo joined the PDD Secretariat in March 2021. Previously, he worked as Research Assistant with the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) Europe, where he focused on European Union migration and asylum policies, migration forecasting, development finance and migration, and the linkages between human mobility and climate change. Timo has also worked in Jerusalem with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Program of Assistance to the Palestinian People as well as with various NGOs in both Europe and the Middle East. In his free time, he enjoys creatively exploring human mobility, both in writing and documentary filmmaking. He holds a Master’s degree in Migration Studies from the University of Oxford and a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies from Leiden University. Timo speaks German, English, some Arabic and increasingly French.

Timo is the Associate Policy Officer of the Secretariat of the Platform on Disaster Displacement.

Lorenzo Guadagno, Project Coordinator

Lorenzo Guadagno joined the PDD Secretariat in May 2022. He coordinates the Project “Action and Support to Avert, Minimize and Address Displacement Related to the Adverse Effects of Climate Change” (PAMAD). He has been working on displacement and migration, disasters, climate change and the environment for over 15 years with UN and non-governmental organisations. He holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Sannio (Benevento, Italy) and a Masters in Law from the Federico II University (Naples, Italy). He has published on different facets of the nexus between human mobility and disasters. He speaks Italian, English, French, Spanish and some German and Portuguese.

Chirine El Labbane, Communication Officer

Chirine is a Swiss-Egyptian communication enthusiast who has been in Geneva since 2014 when she started working with the Nansen Initiative, predecessor of the Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD). She spent most of her career in the world of strategic and visual communication as well as media, both at UN Headquarters in New York, Geneva and in the field. She also worked in the private sector in Switzerland, the USA and the UK. Before joining the Nansen Initiative, she worked for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. This experience made her understand first-hand the realities of disaster displacement and its devastating effects on people. She holds a Bachelor Degree in Communication Management and a SAWI and ISRP Postgraduate Federal degree in public relations and events.

Chirine is the part time Communication Officer of the PDD Secretariat. When not at work, she can be found scuba diving underwater, taking a walk in the mountains, around a table enjoying good food, or having fun with her family.

Juan Carlos Méndez, PDD Regional Advisor for Latin America and the Caribbean

Juan Carlos is our regional advisor for Latin America & the Caribbean. He has relevant professional experience having worked for the government in Costa Rica, as academic and consultant for international organization such Habitat for Humanity, Inter-American Institute of Human Rights, and the Inter-American Development Bank.

He was deployed by the Norwegian Refugee Council/NORCAP to join the Nansen Initiative Coordination Unit in 2014 and the Secretariat of the Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD) in 2016 as regional advisor to support the implementation of the Nansen Initiative Protection Agenda at the regional level. His areas of expertise include migration/forced displacement, climate change, disaster risk reduction, human rights, and humanitarian affairs. He holds a B.A in International Relations, a M.A in Human Rights and a doctorate degree in Migration and Development Cooperation from the Universidad Pontificia Comillas, Madrid, Spain.

Erick Mutshayani, Administration Officer


Erick Mutshayani graduated with a BA Honours in English and Communications from Midlands State University, Zimbabwe, and an MA in International Development from the University of Sheffield, UK. Prior to joining the Platform, Erick worked with several NGOs in communication, research, and administrative capacities in South Africa, Tanzania and the United Kingdom. Before joining the Platform as an Administrative Officer, Erick completed two internships with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and the Platform on Disaster Displacement in Geneva as a Humanitarian Affairs Intern and Policy and Communications Intern. Erick speaks English and a variety of local languages from Southern Africa (Shona, Ndebele, Nyanja, Tonga and Zulu), and he is currently learning French. He enjoys being in multi-cultural multi-lingual settings, travelling and has a strong interest in humanitarian affairs.

Olivianne Wohlhauser, Policy and Communication Officer

Olivianne WohlhauserOlivianne joined the Platform on Disaster Displacement Secretariat in April 2023. She holds a Master of Law from the University of Zurich, specializing in international law and human rights. In the past, she worked with Swiss NGOs on human rights applications, strategic litigation, and forced marriage. She has also been involved in student-led initiatives on refugee rights, cultural diversity, access to education, and asylum advocacy. Very interested in climate and environmental justice, Olivianne also writes news articles for a non-profit climate lawyer association and previously participated in the organization of the 2022 Oslo International Environmental Law Conference with IUCN WCEL and the University of Oslo. Olivianne speaks French, English, and German. In her spare time, she loves to cook, enjoy long summer days by the lake and travel sustainably.

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