Clark thrives on challenge of UN job
Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark is enjoying the challenges of advocacy on the world stage as the chief administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Ms Clark was in Matamata last week to speak at the Rotary Club of Matamata’s weekly meeting and she told a crowd of more than 70 that the role she had held many challenges but also a lot of rewards.
One of the biggest challenges facing the world at present was that of food security, she said.
‘‘One in four Africans remains undernourished. We need to be looking at the whole chain of farming and production along with the role of women in food security.
‘‘ A hungry child cannot learn and a hungry adult cannot be engaged in society so food security is crucial,’’ Ms Clark said.
UNDP is not a food agency but is pushing governments to look at the sector where the poor in developing countries are living and then encouraging those in power to think about what can be done to change the lives of these people, she told Rotarians.
Another critical factor to address is sustainable energy, with more than 1.3 billion people worldwide having no access to electricity and 2.5 billion people still relying on traditional biomass for cooking and heating, Ms Clark said.
The organisation, she said, had been working to develop a triple- win policy toward environmental sustainability and addressing inequalities in gender and income.
‘‘You can go all out for economic growth and completely ruin your environment,’’ Ms Clark said.
So what differences has Ms Clark noticed with her role at the United Nations compared to being Prime Minister? ‘‘As the Prime Minister I made a decision and I could implement it and know it was done. Now I go to countries where the strategies are fine but there is no way in hell that they can be implemented and you need to get to the underlying factors about why things are not being achieved.
‘‘There is a lot to do there and I am really enjoying the challenges of advocating at a global level,’’ she said.
‘‘I see new positive things that we do that make a real difference in people’s lives.’’
Catch up: Former Prime Minister Helen Clark talks with Rotary Club of Matamata president Graeme Guilford.