Blue Smoke just launched the policy brief “Unveiling Inequalities: A spotlight on senior appointments at key UN environment and development bodies”. The document was written by Júlia Hara Medeiros and Nayifa Nihad, with support from Maiara Folly, Marília Closs and Vitória Gonzalez (Plataforma CIPÓ) and Enyseh Teimory (UNA-UK).
Published in English, the document shines light on the history of senior appointments of four UN bodies that are crucial for coordinating global action to tackle climate change, development, and biodiversity challenges – United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
The briefing highlights the lack of female and Global South representation, and explores how inequality and underrepresentation affects the organisations’ functioning. Across these four bodies, only 20% of senior leaders have been women and on average 40% have been from the Global South. This dynamic is especially troubling due to the disproportionate impact of climate change on people in the Global South, particularly women and girls.
To adress climate changes and other global challenges related to sustainable development, it is vital that the UN is led by senior leaders appointed through processes that are inclusive, transparent, democratic and subject to scrutiny. Regarding this, the policy brief presents concrete recommendations to strengthen senior appointments in the analyzed entities, making them more representative of those most affected by the mandates they cover and, in doing so, making the UN’s work on climate and development issues more effective.
Blue Smoke is an initiative launched in 2022 to shine a light on elections and appointments to senior positions within the United Nations. Blue Smoke, which working group is led by United Nations Association UK (UNA-UK), Strategy for Humanity and Plataforma CIPÓ, conducts research, advocacy and communications activities to achieve the goal of ensuring that appointments to senior, political, and public roles at the UN are inclusive, democratic, merit-based, transparent, and subject to scrutiny. This is essential for the credibility, effectiveness and quality of the mandate-holder and the UN itself.
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Cover image: A 30-foot high monument entitled ‘Turn off the plastics tap’ by Canadian activist and artist Benjamin von Wong, in exhibition at UNEP, Nairobi, Kenya. Credit: UNEP/Cyril Villemain Foto: © Cyril Villemain/PNUMA