Former prime minister Kevin Rudd has taken a new key post with a global agency in a move that will further stoke speculation he has the role of UN Secretary-General in his sights.
Mr Rudd has been appointed chair of the global sanitation and water partnership Sanitation and Water for All (SWA), whose goal is to achieve universal access to sanitation and safe drinking water.
The agency partners with more than 90 governments, organisations and development bodies, including the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Development Program.
UNICEF published a statement overnight welcoming the appointment saying the former Labor prime minister “brings to the position leadership, passion, drive and enthusiasm, which will be crucial as we strive to meet the sanitation, water, and hygiene goals in the new 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda”.
SWA’s outgoing chair John A. Kufuor, former president of Ghana, said in a statement from the organisation: “Mr Rudd brings extensive expertise in the global political scene and the convening power that goes with it. He has development in his heart, and will know how to support countries and all our partners as we move into the era of the Sustainable Development Goals”.
Since quitting politics, Mr Rudd has kept his schedule busy with appointments and fellowships at universities and working groups in the United States, Britain and China.
But there has been chatter that it is the role of UN Secretary-General that really interests him when the current Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon vacates the post at the end of 2016.
Mr Rudd was last year named the inaugural head of the Asia Society Policy Institute in New York, which is located down the road from the United Nations’ headquarters.
Experts on UN process have previously noted that one thing that would count against Mr Rudd in any bid for the Secretary-General’s post was the lack of UN mission experience on his CV.
Bulgarian Irina Bokova and former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark, both of whom have been seen as more likely frontrunners, are both in charge of major UN agencies.
Ms Bokova, whose bid is strengthened by the fact the job is due to be rotated to Eastern Europe, heads the UN’s largest agency UNESCO.
Ms Clark is the current director of the United Nations Development Program.
“We wish Mr Rudd all success and pledge to work with him to advance the mission of the SWA partnership,” UNICEF said on Thursday.
“With over 800 children dying each day from diseases linked to the lack of adequate water, sanitation, and hygiene, the cause is urgent.”