UN’s new development chief aims to cut poverty despite crises

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) meets with Helen Clark, new Administrator of UNDP

28 April 2009 – The new administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) vowed today to sharpen her agency’s focus on cutting poverty despite the multiple crises currently facing the world.

“A new deal for the world economy and a new deal for the environment should also be capable of tackling poverty, including tackling energy poverty and providing a low carbon footprint route to development,” Helen Clark said as she was welcomed to the UN’s New York Headquarters in a Maori ceremony of her native New Zealand, for which she formerly served as Prime Minister.

“Out of crisis also comes opportunity to look at fresh ways of doing things and to innovate,” said Miss Clark, UNDP’s first woman administrator, who was sworn in yesterday by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

UNDP is the largest of the independently-funded UN agencies and, under its special General Assembly mandate, leads the world body’s work on sustainable development and promoting good governance in the developing world.

Among her other priorities as Administrator, Miss Clark named the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a group of targets for slashing global economic, social and health ills by the year 2015.

She also said she would pursue gender equality as a core value of the agency.

As Chair of the UN Development Group, she pledged her full commitment to working constructively with partners in the UN family, and to building the best possible relationships with the widest possible range of stakeholders in development.

“I also want to communicate more widely the work of UNDP – we have much to our credit and the story must be told,” she said.

Miss Clark had been a member of the New Zealand Parliament since 1981, and was Prime Minister from 1999 to 2008, while concurrently holding a number of other portfolios including Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage.

She replaces Kemal Dervis of Turkey, who had been in the post since 2005 and stepped down on 1 March for family and personal reasons.

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