Following the nomination by the Secretary-General, the General Assembly today elected Erik Solheim of Norway as Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for a four-year term.
Mr. Solheim will succeed Achim Steiner of Germany, to whom the Secretary-General conveys his gratitude and appreciation for having, during his 10 years’ tenure, managed to inspire and lead significant transformation of UNEP into a strategically powerful and substantively confident organisation. His leadership and tangible achievements as Chair of the High Level Committee on Programmes, as the principle mechanism for system-wide coordination in the UN system, are praiseworthy.
Mr. Solheim is currently Chair of the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a post he has held since 2013, and is serving as UNEP’s Special Envoy for environment, conflict and disaster. Known as the 'green' politician, he held the combined portfolio of Norway’s Minister of the Environment and International Development from 2007 to 2012, and served as Minister of International Development from 2005 to 2007.
Having spent most of his career fighting for the environment in national and Global politics, including through non-governmental organizations and during his combined ministerial portfolio, Mr. Solheim has focussed on the challenge of integrating environmental and developmental issues. During his ministerial tenure, Norway reached 1% for overseas development assistance and the unique Nature Diversity Act was passed. He initiated the process leading to the global coalition to conserve and promote sustainable use of the world's rainforests - the UN REDD - gaining invaluable diplomatic and organizational experience.
Undergraduate degree in History and Social Studies, University of Oslo, Mr. Solheim has received several awards for his work on climate and environment, including UNEP's “Champion of the Earth” award, and contributed to a number of peace and reconciliation efforts, most notably as the chief negotiator of the peace process in Sri Lanka.
Born in 1955, he is married, with four children.