UN environment chief resigns after travel revelations

Here's a little U.N. hypocrisy with your turkey today.

The head of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), Erik Solheim, has resigned amid some startling revelations about the frequency and expense of his travel.

Solheim really gets around.

Guardian:

The Guardian understands Solheim was asked to resign by the UN secretary general, António Guterres.  Sources at the UN Environment Programme (Unep) said that countries unhappy with Solheim's conduct were holding back tens of millions of dollars, threatening a financial crisis at the body.

A draft internal UN audit leaked to the Guardian in September found Solheim had spent almost $500,000 (£390,000) on air travel and hotels in just 22 months, and was away 80% of the time.  The audit said this was a "reputation risk" for an organisation dedicated to fighting climate change.

Gee...ya think? When even the UN recognizes the crummy optics of having someone in charge of climate change policy dumping CO2 into the atmosphere from jet exhaust, you know it's serious.

A UN staff union leader called some of the revelations "mind-blowing" and a prominent climate scientist accused Solheim of "obscene CO2 hypocrisy".

Yeah – what he said.

The audit said Solheim had "no regard for abiding by the set regulations and rules" and had failed to account properly for some of his travel.  He also unofficially allowed chosen staff to work from Europe rather than at Unep headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.  Solheim told the Guardian he had already paid back money for instances of oversight and made changes where other rules had been broken.

In fairness to Solheim, I wouldn't want to work in Kenya, either.  There's a definite lack of five-star hotels, and one can imagine what passes for a good restaurant in Nairobi.

And then there's nepotism:

The Guardian had also revealed that Solheim had to recuse himself in September from professional dealings with his own wife and a Norwegian company that employed her shortly after it signed a deal with Unep in April.

The Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden are among the countries that publicly said they were halting funding for Unep until the issues around Solheim were resolved.  The total sum at stake is in the region of $50m, according to sources.

That's a drop in the bucket for the U.N. – and therein lies the problem.  The United Nations is a black hole for money with little or no oversight and massive overspending.  Various efforts at reform over the years have been beaten back by the career bureaucrats, many who live like kings in New York and Geneva, Switzerland while the people of their own countries starve.

It is "obscene."

Despite the obscenity, the U.N. continues to stand as a symbol of the universal desire for peace and security.  The question for each succeeding generation is why house this bloodsucking organization in the U.S.?  Geneva or The Hague would be a far better location, considering both are well known for their internationalism. 

Yes, but neither of those cities has the Big Apple's nightlife and, let's admit it, debauched underground.  If you're going to rob the U.N. blind, you want to live in a city where you can spend that ill gotten cash on wine, women...and more women. 

Am I exaggerating?  Perhaps a little.  But Solheim's sins are just the tip of the iceberg and represent a common mindset at the U.N.

Here's a little U.N. hypocrisy with your turkey today.

The head of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), Erik Solheim, has resigned amid some startling revelations about the frequency and expense of his travel.

Solheim really gets around.

Guardian:

The Guardian understands Solheim was asked to resign by the UN secretary general, António Guterres.  Sources at the UN Environment Programme (Unep) said that countries unhappy with Solheim's conduct were holding back tens of millions of dollars, threatening a financial crisis at the body.

A draft internal UN audit leaked to the Guardian in September found Solheim had spent almost $500,000 (£390,000) on air travel and hotels in just 22 months, and was away 80% of the time.  The audit said this was a "reputation risk" for an organisation dedicated to fighting climate change.

Gee...ya think? When even the UN recognizes the crummy optics of having someone in charge of climate change policy dumping CO2 into the atmosphere from jet exhaust, you know it's serious.

A UN staff union leader called some of the revelations "mind-blowing" and a prominent climate scientist accused Solheim of "obscene CO2 hypocrisy".

Yeah – what he said.

The audit said Solheim had "no regard for abiding by the set regulations and rules" and had failed to account properly for some of his travel.  He also unofficially allowed chosen staff to work from Europe rather than at Unep headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.  Solheim told the Guardian he had already paid back money for instances of oversight and made changes where other rules had been broken.

In fairness to Solheim, I wouldn't want to work in Kenya, either.  There's a definite lack of five-star hotels, and one can imagine what passes for a good restaurant in Nairobi.

And then there's nepotism:

The Guardian had also revealed that Solheim had to recuse himself in September from professional dealings with his own wife and a Norwegian company that employed her shortly after it signed a deal with Unep in April.

The Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden are among the countries that publicly said they were halting funding for Unep until the issues around Solheim were resolved.  The total sum at stake is in the region of $50m, according to sources.

That's a drop in the bucket for the U.N. – and therein lies the problem.  The United Nations is a black hole for money with little or no oversight and massive overspending.  Various efforts at reform over the years have been beaten back by the career bureaucrats, many who live like kings in New York and Geneva, Switzerland while the people of their own countries starve.

It is "obscene."

Despite the obscenity, the U.N. continues to stand as a symbol of the universal desire for peace and security.  The question for each succeeding generation is why house this bloodsucking organization in the U.S.?  Geneva or The Hague would be a far better location, considering both are well known for their internationalism. 

Yes, but neither of those cities has the Big Apple's nightlife and, let's admit it, debauched underground.  If you're going to rob the U.N. blind, you want to live in a city where you can spend that ill gotten cash on wine, women...and more women. 

Am I exaggerating?  Perhaps a little.  But Solheim's sins are just the tip of the iceberg and represent a common mindset at the U.N.