Former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has recently joined Conservation International to advocate for climate action and environmental preservation. This announcement has received mixed reactions, with some praising her new role and others criticizing her past environmental policies and leadership.
Conservation International revealed that Ardern would be serving a two-year term as their sixth Arnhold Distinguished Fellow, focusing on international advocacy, particularly concerning the Pacific and Antarctica. This move comes after Ardern stepped down from the PM’s office, citing exhaustion and the need for a break from her demanding role. She has also taken on dual fellowships at Harvard University’s Kennedy School and is working on writing a book on leadership.
Despite Conservation International’s praise, critics argue that Ardern’s environmental policies during her tenure as Prime Minister were ineffective and lacked substantial impact. For example, her symbolic declaration of a climate emergency in 2020 received criticism for its lack of concrete measures. Additionally, her government’s ban on plastic shopping bags and halting new offshore oil and gas exploration were seen by some as opportunistic and lacking substance. The swift departure from office earlier this year, citing exhaustion and her party’s decline in popularity, raised questions about her ability to effectively lead on pressing issues.
Furthermore, some skeptics argue that Ardern’s new role may be an attempt to bolster her global image, especially after her successor, Chris Hipkins, faced a humiliating defeat in the recent general election. This has led to speculation about the motivations behind Ardern’s partnership with Conservation International.
The reaction to Ardern’s new role represents the complexity of her legacy and the differing perspectives on her leadership. While some laud her commitment to environmental preservation and her continued engagement with global issues, others question the impact of her past policies and see her new position as a strategic move to rehabilitate her public image.
As Ardern transitions into her new role with Conservation International, it remains to be seen how her advocacy efforts will be received and whether she will be able to address the criticisms of her past environmental policies. For now, the announcement has sparked a debate about Ardern’s legacy and the effectiveness of her leadership in addressing pressing environmental challenges.