Solheim buckled under pressure after criticism of his global travels that saw him guzzle up $500, 000 in under 22 months.
He was also accused of internal rule-breaking at the Nairobi headquartered UN agency.
Msuya is a microbiologist and environmental scientist who has been serving as UNEP’s Deputy Executive Director at the level of Assistant Secretary-General.
The 50-year-old holds a Master of Science in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Ottawa, Canada, and a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Immunology from the University of Strathclyde, Scotland.
Prior to joining UN Environment, Msuya served as Advisor to the World Bank Vice President, East Asia and Pacific Region in Washington, D.C.
She has more than 20 years of extensive experience in the field of international development spanning corporate, strategy, operations, knowledge management, and partnerships, with diverse assignments in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
From 2014 to 2017, Msuya served as the inaugural World Bank Special Representative and Head of the World Bank Group (WBG) Office in the Republic of Korea, where she established and developed office operations.
She led on expanding and deepening the partnership between the WBG and the Government of Korea.
Before this, Msuya held a series of high-level positions at the WBG, including the World Bank Institute’s East Asia and Pacific Regional Coordinator based in China, Principal Strategy Officer at the International Finance Corporation (IFC)’s Manufacturing, Agribusiness & Services Department, and Special Advisor to World Bank Senior Vice President & Chief Economist (Lord Nicholas Stern).
At the WBG, Msuya led several strategic initiatives within complex organizations at global, regional and country levels including creating an innovative blended finance fund (the Food Fund) in response to the 2008 global food crisis; leading the development of the IFC’s growth strategy for Africa, which helped IFC achieve a historic increase in private sector investments in Africa.
She also managed the China-Africa Knowledge Sharing Programme, the World Bank’s most successful South-South programme, which leveraged the WBG’s environmental and social standards to inform sustainable business practices of cross-border investments into Africa.
Msuya started her career with the WBG as a Health Specialist, Africa Region in 1998. As an author and publisher of multiple articles in the health sector, including in peer-reviewed journals as well as a background paper titled “Making Services Work for Poor People” for the 2004 World Development Report (WDR), she delivered both sustainable development projects and leading analytical products.
Before joining the WBG, Msuya worked on various public and private sector assignments at the University of British Columbia in Canada and in Tanzania.
Msuya is married with two children.
Solheim, a Norwegian diplomat and former politician, announced his resignation with effect from November 20.
“I wanted UN Environment to be a lead agency for reform, even if it raised some questions. Doing things differently is never easy and I will depart knowing I never spared a moment in my effort to implement this vision and leave UN Environment more capable and more impactful,” he added.
Solheim took over from Achim Steiner as the executive director of UNEP in 2016.
“I have been and remain committed to doing what I believe to be in the best interest of UN Environment and the mission we are here to achieve,” he said, adding that he is only sorry that the journey has come to an end.
In September 2018, just 22 months since taking over from Steiner, a draft audit report by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) revealed that Solheim and his staff blew millions of shillings in unnecessary travel expenses.
OIOS recommended that Solheim refunds the UN agency “all travel costs and related staff time not accounted for and all additional costs incurred by UNEP as a result of uneconomical and inefficient decisions made by management”.
A statement from Secretary-General Guterres said he has accepted Solheim’s resignation.
It added that the Secretary-General assured that “Msuya will be granted all the necessary support to ensure a smooth transition” even as the SG launches a recruitment process, in consultation with the Member States, to find Solheim’s successor.