Roy Gilbert

UN biodiversity chief who quit before key summit had been accused of misconduct

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Documents show Cristiana Pasça Palmer faced allegations of discrimination against African staff members and improper intervention into the renewal of her contract Executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity Cristiana Pasça Palmer (Photo: IISD/ENB) The UN’s biodiversity chief has resigned in the midst of preparations for the most important summit on the Earth’s living systems in a decade.

Earlier this month, Cristiana Pasça Palmer, a former Romanian environment minister, told staff at the secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), where she has been executive secretary since March 2017, she was “at a crossroads where I must accept that due to a mixture of factors increasingly affecting my health, I am unable to continue this journey and lead the CBD Secretariat on the road to the UN Biodiversity Conference in China”.

Documents seen by Climate Home News describe a chaotic work environment at the secretariat, widespread staff illness and resignations and allegations that Pasça Palmer discriminated against African staff members on the basis of their race.

They also show she had fallen into conflict with the bureau that represents national governments that have signed the convention. This culminated in a top Egyptian official and former executive secretary accusing her of improperly intervening in deliberations over the renewal of her contract.

Pasça Palmer declined to be interviewed for this article or respond to the allegations, repeating that she was taking time off to be with family and recover from health problems.

The upheaval at the secretariat comes at a critical moment. Scientists […]

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