Erik Solheim, once recognized by the U.N. Environment Program as one of its “Champions of the Earth,” will soon be taking over as the program’s executive-director. The outgoing chair of the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development will take the reins from Achim Steiner, whom U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised for his past 10 years of service transforming UNEP into a “strategically powerful and substantively confident organization.”
Solheim has been serving as UNEP’s special envoy for environment, conflict and disaster, even prior to the election. Often referred to as the “green politician,” Solheim was Norway’s minister of the environment and international development from 2007 to 2012. He is credited for initiating the process that led to the U.N. REDD initiative, whose tasks is to promote and assist countries in the conservation and sustainable use of the world’s forests. He will be starting in his new role in September.