Erik Solheim, the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, resigned on November 20, 2018, after he was criticized for spending too much time outside Nairobi and bypassing UN rules on accounting for money spent on travel. This information became available earlier this year in September when a report by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) was leaked to the media. This initiated a wave of public concern about Solheim’s leadership and resulted in several countries like the Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden freezing their contributions to UNEP until further investigation. As Erik Solheim mentioned in his message to staff, he is stepping down as Executive Director for the best interest of the organization and in close consultation with the UN Secretary-General. His resignation will become effective on November 22, 2018 and until a new Executive Director is appointed, the current Deputy Executive Director Joyce Msuya will serve as acting head of the organization.
This comes in the run up to the fourth UN Environment Assembly, which will convene environment ministers in Nairobi in March 2019. UNEP has also been charged to host three intergovernmental meetings discussing a Global Pact on the Environment in accordance with Resolution 72/277 in Nairobi.
Our interview with Erik Solheim from September 20, 2017 can be found here.