Tanzanian picked to head Unep as chief Erik Solheim resigns

Wednesday November 21 2018

Mr Erik Solheim. He has resigned as United Nations Under-Secretary-General for environment. PHOTO | FABRICE COFFRINI | AFP


Tanzanian national Joyce Msuya has been appointed as acting head of the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) following the resignation of the executive director Erik Solheim.

Mr Solheim announced he had quit with effect from November 20 in the wake of an internal audit report that said he had had gobbled up $500,000 in unnecessary and budgeted travel expenses in just 22 months.

He is also accused of rule-breaking at the Nairobi-headquartered UN agency.

“Moments ago, with a heavy heart, I informed the Secretary-General (António Guterres) of my decision,” he said on Tuesday.

“It is my most sincere hope that this proves to be in the best interest of UN Environment and the wider UN. Despite the challenges this moment brings, I also hope each of you will take pride in what we have achieved together,” said Mr Solheim in a statement to staff.

He noted that in 2017, he heeded the call of the Secretary-General that it was time for a dramatic change in culture at the UN to ensure that the organisation remained relevant to address the challenges of the 21st century.


“I wanted UN Environment to be a lead agency for reform, even if it raised some questions. Doing things differently is never easy and I will depart knowing I never spared a moment in my effort to implement this vision and leave UN Environment more capable and more impactful,” he added.

“I have been and remain committed to doing what I believe to be in the best interest of UN Environment and the mission we are here to achieve,” he said, adding that he is only sorry that the journey has come to an end.

The Norwegian diplomat and former politician took over from Achim Steiner as the executive director of Unep in 2016.