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Speth leaving WRI; Lash will succeed


DECEMBER 1, 1992

Speth leaving WRI; Lash will succeed

The board of directors of the World Resources Institute announced late November the selection of Jonathan Lash as the new President of WRI.  Lash is the former Secretary of Natural Resources for the state of Vermont.

“I am delighted to join WRI because it is unique in drawing the connection between environmental change, development, and justice,” Lash said.

The World Resource Institute is a leading not-for-profit research organization. Lash will take over as head of the independent policy research center in January, 1993, when the institute’s current president, James Gustave Speth, steps down.

“This is a critical time of transition as leaders both in the United States and throughout the world recognize the immense importance of global environment and development issues after the Earth Summit in Rio,” said Lash.

From 1995 to 1990, as Secretary of Natural Resources and Commissioner of Environmental Conversation, Jonathan Lash moved Vermont to the forefront in environmental protection.  He introduced” green fees” to reduce solid waste generation and encourage recycling and the treatment of hazardous waste.  He also helped to write legislation compelling auto makers to recycle from car air conditioners the Freon (CFCs) that is harmful to the ozone layer.

Lash is the author of two books, “Season for Spoils: The Story of the Reagan Administration’s Attack on the Environment” and “The Synfuels Manual.”

Speth is joining the Clinton transition operation as head of the natural resources and environmental cluster.  The Clinton transition operation has nine ”cluster groups” of people who will review government agencies for the new administration.

There has been speculation in UN circles that Speth may be nominated by the new US Administration as Administration of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).  The current Administrator, William H. Draper III, is a Republican and a close friend of President George Bush.

While the UNDP Administrator’s post has long been considered as a US prerogative, a number of European states are reported to feel that the next UNDP head should be selected from Europe because European nations as a whole now contribute more to UNDP than the US.  The Danes, in particular, appear to be angling for the UNDP top job.

Draper’s term does not expire until the end of 1993, and it is unclear whether he would want to stay on at his current post until then.  Some of Draper’s close associates at UNDP have started putting out the word that he is ready to leave the organization but is waiting for an appropriate occasion to make the announcement.  Other associates assert, however, that Draper — an independently wealthy man — will stay the distance.

UN sources also reported that friends of James P. Grant, Executive Director of UNICEF, are hoping the Bill Clinton will consider Grant for an appointment as US Ambassador to China. Grant, son of missionary parents, was born in China and spent his early years there.

Meanwhile, Nitin Desai — currently Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development  — is reported to be the firm choice of an increasing number of UN member-states to head the Secretariat of the incipient Commission on Sustainable Development.  His closest rival, Jean-Claude Faby of France, is likely to be retained as head of the New York office of the Commission if the Secretariat is based in Geneva.

It is unclear what level Desai’s job would be at: Under-Secretary-General or Assistant Secretary-General.  His current position is at the ASG level, but influential officials in the office of UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali are reported to feel that the job of the Commission Secretariat’s head should be only at a director’s level.

Faby, a highly skilled bureaucratic infighter, is reported to have carefully cultivated the UN bureaucracy in an effort to secure maximum exposure for his own credentials.  Desai, on the other hand, is said to be viewed favorably by developing countries who are anxious that one of their own get a high position within a UN system dominated Northerners at senior levels.  Still, some influential diplomats in the international community are said to be less than enthusiastic about Desai’s management style.  Some critics say, for example, that the campaign to succeed Mostafa K. Tolba as head of UNEP now appears to be veering in favor of Elizabeth Dowdswell of Canada.

Tolba, who had announced last August that he would not seek re-election, was said to be re-considering his decision and had told friends that a number of developing countries wanted him to continue in the UNEP post for at least another year after his term expired at the end of December 1992.  But Tolba’s prospects of continuing in his post grew weak after a behind-the-scenes bargain between North and South representatives that if the top job at the Commission on Sustainable Development went to Nitin Desai of India, then the UNEP job would go to someone from an industrialized country.