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French politician Ségolène Royal eyes top UN post

Jessica LE MASURIER | French Environment minister Ségolène Royal.

French Environment minister Ségolène Royal is in the running to become the next head of the United Nations Development Programme.


On the sidelines of a high-level UN meeting on climate change and sustainable development this Thursday, Royal told FRANCE 24 that she has officially applied for the job, “Yes, I have put forward my candidacy (for UNDP). It follows on well from the work I did on the COP21 climate deal. It will be a way for me to continue being useful for the future of the planet and in the fight against poverty.” 

The current head of UNDP, New Zealand politician Helen Clark, has announced that she will step down from her position on April 19, at the end of her second four-year term. Clark was the first woman to lead the organisation.  

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said he wants to appoint more women in top jobs at the UN. Guterres has pledged to reach gender parity among senior leadership within his five-year term. 

Other names for the position are circulating at the UN but none have been independently confirmed. They include: David Miliband, the former British Foreign Secretary and current President and CEO of International RescueCommittee, and two Dutch candidates, Sigrid Kaag, who currently serves as the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon, and the Netherlands' Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bert Koenders.  

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the United Nations' global development network. It works in nearly 170 countries and its headquarters are in New York City. UNDP aims to eradicate poverty and reduce inequalities around the world.

UNDP relies on voluntary contributions from UN member states. France is only 30th on the list of contributors, right behind the Dominican Republic. This fact may limit Royal’s chances of being chosen to head up the agency.

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