Solheim looks forward to new job

Erik Solheim, the veteran Norwegian politician who lost his ministerial position in a government re-shuffle last spring, has finally re-emerged with the sort of new, international job he wanted. Solheim will soon take over as leader of the Development Assistance Committee for the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) in Paris.

Erik Solheim traveled the world as a government minister in charge of foreign aid for Norway, like here in Burma’s new capital Naypiydaw. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Solheim told newspaper Dagsavisen over the weekend. “It’s a great opportunity to be a spokesperson for the world’s poor in global politics.”

Solheim will succeed Brian Atwood of the US and likely start traveling around the world again, as he did while a government minister in charge of foreign aid for Norway and as minister for the environment at the same time. Solheim has played a key role in climate negotiations at the United Nations’ summits in recent years and often quarreled with government colleagues who weren’t as willing as he was to demand more drastic cuts in carbon emissions. Solheim also has a long track record as a peace broker and served as the UN’s special envoy in Sri Lanka.

Now he’ll be leading the OECD committee, founded in 1960, of 23 member nations plus the EU that make the largest foreign aid contributions. Their goal, according to the OECD, is to promote development cooperation and other policies that will contribute to sustainable development and economic growth, poverty reduction, improved living standards and “to a future in which no country will depend on aid.”

Solheim told Dagsavisen that he first intends to listen to others on the committee, but then intends to “reach out a hand to China, India, Brazil and other new donors in the world,  melt together the environment and development and get the private sector more involved.”

Solheim is also in the midst of writing two books, one on Norwegian politics and one on the peace process in Sri Lanka.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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