Thursday 27th June 2019
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IUCN’s Andersen to replace Solheim at UNEP

The UN secretary-general has picked the Danish economist and environmentalist, Inger Andersen, as its new environment chief, according to a letter seen by Agence France-Presse, turning the page on a scandal over expenses that rocked the UN agency.

Inger Andersen
Inger Andersen of the IUCN. Photo credit: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Andersen, who heads the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a union of governmental and non-governmental bodies around the world, is set to succeed Erik Solheim of Norway, who resigned in November amid an outcry over his huge travel expenses.

The UN deputy secretary general, Amina Mohammed, told a meeting of ambassadors on Thursday, February 14, 2019 that her boss, António Guterres, had chosen Andersen.

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Her nomination as head of the Nairobi-based UN environment programme (UNEP) will be submitted to the general assembly for approval.

Andersen, 60, has also served as the World Bank vice-president for the Middle East and north Africa and worked at the UN for 15 years on water and environment issues.

If confirmed as expected, Andersen will take the helm at UNEP after Solheim’s scandal-racked tenure.

A UN audit last year found Solheim had spent nearly $500,000 (£390,000) on travel over 22 months at a time when the world body is struggling with shrinking budgets.

His globetrotting raised accusations that he showed little regard for the environment and efforts to reduce carbon emissions generated by air travel.

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The audit found that UNEP had a “culture of scant regard for internal controls and existing rules”, with Solheim taking too many trips to Paris and Oslo and spending little time at the Nairobi headquarters.

The findings prompted some donors to withhold funding to UNEP.

Andersen’s nomination comes amid a push by Guterres to appoint more women to senior UN posts. The UN chief is also preparing a major climate summit in September to push for international action to confront global warming.

Courtesy: The Guardian of London

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