The appointment of Dhawan, effective from April, reflects increased pressure on the mining industry to put environmental, social and governance issues front and centre of decision-making.
"I am excited to be joining ICMM in arguably the most important decade for the industry," Dhawan said. "The foundations of a net zero emissions economy are being laid now, and minerals are critical to it."
Dhawan sits on an expert panel on climate change for the British government's Partnering for Accelerated Climate Transitions programme, and his past roles include global head of sustainability for the mining sector at consultancy KPMG.
Current ICMM CEO Tom Butler, who has been in the role since July 2015, will step down on April 6.
The London-based ICMM, whose members include 27 mining and metals companies and represent about 30% of the global metals market, most recently represented the industry in multilateral negotiations over global mine waste dam standards.
Richard Adkerson, CEO of copper producer Freeport-McMoRan Inc and ICMM chairman, led the search to replace Butler.
"The ICMM has done a lot of good things, but the world is changing and there are rising demands from an ESG perspective. ICMM needs to be responsive to that," Adkerson told Reuters last month.
(Reporting by Helen Reid, additional reporting by Ernest Scheyder; Editing by Susan Fenton)