United Nations, November 21: Erik Solheim has resigned as the head of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) amid frequent flyer allegations of spending too much time and money travelling. Solheim's resignation as UNEP executive director was accepted by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, his spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters on Tuesday. UNEP's Deputy Executive Director Joyce Msuya will takeover as the head of the Nairobi-headquartered organisation when Solheim's resignation takes effect on Thursday, Dujarric said.
Solheim, who was formerly Norway's Environment Minister, said in a statement that following the final report on the audit of his official travel by the UN's Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) he decided "after deep reflection and in close consultation with the Secretary-General" to step down. In September, the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten reported that according to the OIOS he allegedly spent around $490,000 on travel and questionable expenses since becoming the UNEP head in June 2016. World Environment Day 2018: UNEP Chief Erik Solheim Envisions a Plastic-Free India.
He had allegedly spent 79 per cent of his time at places other than the UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, the newspaper said quoting the report. Asked about Guteress' reaction to the controversy, Dujarric said: "The Secretary-General, I think, is pleased to see that the UNEP is committed to implementing the recommendations that are found in the OIOS report on the travel office."