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  • Erik Solheim, Executive Director of U.N. Environment attends the World Trade Organization (WTO) Forum

    Erik Solheim, Executive Director of U.N. Environment attends the World Trade Organization (WTO) Forum "Trade 2030" in Geneva, Switzerland, Oct. 2, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 20 November 2018
Opinion

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

U.N. environment chief Erik Solheim said Tuesday he had resigned after receiving a final audit of his official travel.

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A draft of the report found he traveled for 529 out of the 668 days audited, spending US$488,518 with no regard for the rules, Britain’s The Guardian newspaper reported in September, and that he claimed unjustified expenses at a time when the world body was struggling with shrinking budgets.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had accepted Solheim’s resignation, which would be effective from Thursday, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters. UNEP deputy director, Joyce Msuya of Tanzania, will temporarily replace Solheim while Guterres begins a search for a new environment chief.

When asked about Solheim’s travel expenses, Dujarric said: “The Secretary-General, I think, is pleased to see that UNEP (the U.N. Environment Programme) is committed to implementing the recommendations that are found in the OIOS (Office of Internal Oversight Services) report on the travel office.”

Solheim, a former Norwegian environment minister, said in a statement that he had decided to resign as executive director of the Nairobi-based U.N. Environment Programme after receiving the final audit report Saturday.

The U.N. Environment Programme aims to set the global environmental agenda through leadership and partnerships.

Solheim's resignation comes ahead of crucial talks opening in Poland on Dec. 2 on implementing the Paris climate deal.

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