Former Norwegian Minister Erik Solheim Takes Reins At UN Environment Programme
Erik Solheim, a former Minister of Environment and International Development in Norway, began his tenure today as Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, with the concurrent position of UN Under-Secretary-General. Mr. Solheim assumes his new role as chief of the global authority on the environment after three years as head of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
In taking up office, Solheim pledged to work with countries around the world to tackle some of the most pressing environmental challenges of our time, including ocean and air pollution, the destruction of ecosystems, climate change and the relationship between the environment and conflict and migration.
He also promised to focus on environment issues close to people, such as damage to human health from air pollution.
Solheim said, “There is an urgent need to fight climate change, halt ecosystem destruction, and reduce pollution for the benefit of all peoples everywhere. By protecting our planet, we protect ourselves and in the process can help bring every last person out of poverty. We all have a stake in a healthy planet.”
He noted other urgent areas to address include the private sector investment needed for sustainable development, greening the finance sector and creating jobs and markets with clean and green technologies.
“Financing the preservation and rejuvenation of our planet cannot be the purview of governments alone. Private sector finance is both vital for sustainable development, and an opportunity for business. As never before, markets are rewarding investments in clean and green jobs and technologies.”
Solheim also underlined that issues like climate change and sustainable development are issues that no one country or organization can solve themselves, and that the world must come together to tackle environmental challenges.