Clark thrives on chal­lenge of UN job

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By DAVID HULME

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.

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