Dear Redditors,

In two days I will attend the conference "Making the MDGs Work: From Advocacy through Implementation to Acceleration and beyond" in Bogotá, Colombia (event page: ). There, I will speak on the development agenda post-2015 and on what comes after the Millennium Development Goals which will expire in two years.

I'm looking forward to your questions on this topic and on anything else you may want to know! I will begin answering them at 11AM EST for approximately an hour.

EDIT 12:13PM Thanks everyone - must fly. Tonnes of questions! Very stimulating. Let's do it again some time. Thanks for your interest in development (and New Zealand!). Spread the word about the MDGs and the importance of speeding up progress over the next 1,000 days! Follow our big MDG conference in Bogota - on Twitter #MDGs2013 and! Over and out!

EDIT 4:30PM Seeing the questions are still coming in I'll circle back here around April 5th - which will mark the 1000 day countdown to the expiration of the MDGs - and answer some more questions. Thanks again to all Redditors for your great participation today!

Proof it's me: More:

Comments: 550 • Responses: 53  • Date: 

balchynz360 karma

Good morning Helen, we have been quite excited about this post over in /r/NewZealand! I am their designated envoy, my qualifications include being able to get up at 5 o'clock in the morning, and being able to cut and paste.

There were quite a few questions, so I hope you don't mind if I break them up into multiple questions, hopefully it then will be less onerous for you to reply and delight your fellow countrypersons.  On behalf of /r/newzealand, I just want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat.

Without further ado...

From /u/muter

  1. Helen, I heard you were instrumental in getting Paul holmes his knight-hood before he passed. Under your government they abollished the titles all together and you were a real advocate for becoming a republic. Why did you push so hard when you were morally against the titles in the first place?

From /u/darthplagerist

  1. You were considered one of the best political managers in New Zealand history from the way you ran the fifth Labour Government. How has your management style changed in the different environment of the UN?

HelenClarkUNDP170 karma

Greetings all! Kia ora, Kiwis! IN NZ everyone knows I don'y agree with knighthoods - my government abolished them. But I do think the late Paul Holmes was worthy of a top honour.

Re management style - same at UNDP as in NZ ! Stay on top of the issues, and be proactive and inclusive.

ken2723896 karma

As the former Prime Minister of New Zealand what are your thoughts on Kim Dotcom and the whole Megaupload mess?

HelenClarkUNDP238 karma

While you can ask anything - don't expect me to dive back into Kiwi political debates! Been there, done that!

fluid_druid89 karma

Are Bret and Jemaine as cool in person as they seem?

HelenClarkUNDP97 karma

I guess so! Haven't met them - would be excited to!

balchynz83 karma

Round 4 from /r/newzealand...

Well not really, I just want to take the opportunity to again thank for your time,  while I know a lot of the questions submitted have not been about your UN role, we at /r/newzealand really appreciate your service to our country and I think that has shown through with the lines of questioning put forth.

So thank you, and if you ever feel like dropping into /r/newzealand for an NZ specific AMA (at a more civilized time) we would be stoked to have you.

Kind regards,

Balchynz and /r/newzealand 

HelenClarkUNDP63 karma

Let's work on it !

johnji66 karma

Do you think the next Secretary-General of the UN might be a woman? Yes, this is a loaded question ;)

HelenClarkUNDP121 karma

Let's hope that the glass ceiling can be broken one day!

adamkavon65 karma


I'm a PhD student who is writing his thesis about the Chinese melamine milk scandal. I'd just like to thank you for doing the right thing and pushing Beijing to come clean with the problem and recall the tainted milk. If not for NZ, I don't know when the problem would have been resolved.

Signed, Adam

HelenClarkUNDP44 karma

Many thanks.

Veeoh60 karma

Hello Helen.

No questions, just never had an ex-Prime Minister say hello!

HelenClarkUNDP92 karma

Hi !

tompiem251 karma

When/where do you draw the line between a humanitarian aid-setting and the development stage?

HelenClarkUNDP65 karma

Let's see the humanitarian-development interface as a spectrum. In the context of conflict and disaster, people need food, water, shelter, and medicine. But, as soon as possible, early recovery leading to development needs to begin. Building resilience to future crisis and/or disaster is an agenda humanitarian and development actors can unite around.

Evernoob43 karma

Do you eat chups?

HelenClarkUNDP82 karma

Pommes frites ? Yes.

balchynz41 karma

Round 2 from /r/newzealand...

From /u/mattsteroyster

  1. What do you think of the current National Government and their policies?

  2. What opinion do you have of the current Labour Party? Any advice for them?

  3. What do you think about the Green Party, especially as Labour will need them if they wish to be re-elected?

  4. What is one bill/act/law you wanted to enact in your time as Prime Minister but couldn't/didn't?

From /u/precociousapprentice

  1. 'What was the greatest single challenge you faced as Prime Minister of NZ, and how has this compared to the greatest single challenge in your role in the UNDP?'

HelenClarkUNDP51 karma

Re single biggest challenge - getting unemployment down and keeping it down - which I'm happy to say was achieved!

HelenClarkUNDP40 karma

Thanks everyone - must fly. Tonnes of questions ! Very stimulating. Let's do it again some time. Thanks for your interest in development (and New Zealand !). Spread the word about the MDGs and the importance of speeding up progress over the next 1,000 days ! Follow our big MDG conference in Bogota - on Twitter #MDGs2013 and ! Over and out !

balchynz31 karma

Round 3 from /r/newzealand... 

From /u/hellomynamesbruce

  1. What do you think is contributing to our 7.3 % unemployment rate? and what steps could the government and the people take to create more jobs and opportunities for New Zealanders in New Zealand.  

  2. What are your thoughts on the rumours John Key will announce an end to interest free student loans"

  3. Has the NCEA education system been as successful and efficient as you had hoped. In hindsight would you change anything about it?

  4. To what extent did you experience sexism and misogyny during your time as prime minister? 

  5. Do you think New Zealand should write a constitution? 

HelenClarkUNDP68 karma

Ididn't experience sexism and mysogyny during my time as PM -but there was a bit on the way up !

HelenClarkUNDP44 karma

NZ has firm constitutional arrangements - I don't think it necessarily needs a document titled "The Constitution". Perhaps if it changes its status from constitutional monarchy to republic one day, it will have to be more formal....

hellomynamesbruce27 karma

Hi Helen I'm a New Zealand Uni student hoping one day to work somewhere in politics so this AMA is like a dream come true to me. I have so many questions but firstly I would like to to take this opportunity to give a shout out to your husband, who took the time to talk to a unimportant student (that's me) at a labour function and was honestly one of nicest and friendliest people I have ever met. My question is: How do you think we can make New Zealanders more engaged and interested in politics? We can be quite the indifferent bunch.

HelenClarkUNDP35 karma

Democracy anywhere doesn't work well if citizens are disengaged. Everyone should take an interest in the decisions before governments. Will pass on your kind words to Peter !

Vortigern27 karma

Do you believe it is economically feasible for all nations to have first world level development, or is the western standard of living only at the expense of less developed nations? Could technology fix this, hypothetically?

HelenClarkUNDP45 karma

The aim is for all human beings to live in dignity and have what they need for healthy and fulfilling lives. This is achievable.

SolidSnake116227 karma

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions! :) What do you think other nations around the world could do to work on their human freedom, as NZ has proved to be #1 in this spectrum?

HelenClarkUNDP58 karma

NZ is generally right up the top of the transparency/anti-corruption index. That rests on strong institutions and values, a free media, active civil society, and parliamentary scrutiny.

BlinKNZ26 karma

What was the biggest change in your life style from when you lived in NZ to moving to the United States and what do you miss the most from back here at home?

Greetings from Christchurch! :D

HelenClarkUNDP59 karma

Biggest change ? The difference between commuting 400 miles to work from Auckland to Wellington - and being able to walk from home to work in NY !

What do I miss most ? Family - but everyone is only a phone call, text, or email away.

ChiefBearClaw24 karma

1) How do you think we as a planet are doing on the MDGs?

2) Are there any goals you think should be added to the MDGs that are not there or should be expanded on?

HelenClarkUNDP19 karma

Overall the MDGs have been a success - at the global level. But there are huge differences within countries and between countries on the rate of progress. The post-2015 agenda development should not lose sight of the unfinished MDG business, while also taking up issues which weren't fully incorporated in the MDGs we currently have.

Egon-Olsen21 karma

Which living politician do you look up to the most? How can private corporations be roped in to help your cause?

HelenClarkUNDP48 karma

There can only be one answer - Nelson Mandela - an inspiration to all.

On the private sector, UNDP works with companies who are willing to incorporate local people and their micro businesses and SMEs into value chains - would welcome new participants in this inclusive business model work.

martinpenner20 karma

In any great undertaking there are always failures as well as successes. And the failures are just as important. What was UN greatest success in the area of MDGs? and what was it's greatest mistake (and what has it learned)?

HelenClarkUNDP21 karma

The greatest success was getting international buy in to the MDGs. I don't think there's a greatest mistake - just less progress on some areas than others.

HelenClarkUNDP20 karma

The Bogota conference on accelerating progress on the MDGs is important - there are just over 1,000 days to go until 31/12/15 - the end of the target year for achieving the MDG targets. Still work to do !

guscrown20 karma

Hello Mrs. Clark,

I must admit that is the first time I've heard of you, but I have been fascinated with your career after reading your wikipedia entry. I have no real question for you, only to say that I admire your country very much, and it is my live long dream to one day get an Engineering job and move my family there.

HelenClarkUNDP27 karma

All the best - NZ Immigration website can advise on the possibilities....

DarrenAbriel16 karma

Dear Helen, thank you for arranging this. Last year, I contacted the UN headquarters in NY with the question - is there an official flag of peace in this world?. The answer was NO. Flags as we all know, have huge significance, it represents everything about the nation, organisation, sports teams etc.. So last year, my partners and I pioneered an initiative titled "The Peace Flag" to institutionalise the world's first official flag of peace through a formal UN ratification to be raised annually on International Day of Peace , 21st September by national embassies. The reality is that we've been trying to make connections with embassies and the UN and it seems a tad too distant for us to discuss this. I'd like your advice on how to approach governing bodies such as embassies and the UN, also taking this opportunity to present our initiative towards a more peaceful world.

Yours Darren

HelenClarkUNDP14 karma

A good idea - keep building support for me. Can you write to me - helen.clark@undp - and I can write a supportive reply.

hbos24616 karma

Good evening Helen, writing you from Singapore, and it's midnight here. I'm really inspired by your career, and wish to follow your path. Thank you for taking time to answer our questions. I would like to ask if you would have any advices on how to work with UNDP to set up projects, and also on what would be the new direction of UNDP post-2015 and therefore, on what kind of projects will you focus on.


An other Helen(e).

HelenClarkUNDP17 karma

Many thanks! UNDP works with virtually every developing country, and often through civil society groups in those countries. Best to engage with the local UNDP Country Offices.

vernazza15 karma

What are your thoughts on the use of RCTs in development projects? Is there a better way to measure outcomes for the programs of UNDP?

HelenClarkUNDP25 karma

Pros and cons on randomised control trials - on the positive side, it can give information about what works. On the negative side, it's not equitable. Is it right to withhold support from one group while giving it to another to collect evidence ???? As well there is also debate about the science of this approach.

crammedcity15 karma

Hi Helen! Fellow kiwi here. I have three questions:

  1. What do you consider to be your biggest achievement or legacy as Prime Minister?

  2. Do you have a favourite inspirational quote?

  3. I enjoy following you on twitter - how many of them do you personally write?

Thank you! All the best for your time in Colombia.

HelenClarkUNDP36 karma

I believe that as PM I contributed to making NZ a fairer, better place to live in.

Favourite inspirational quote ? Never look back. Move on. Aim high. Etc.

I write all the tweets on @helenclarkundp.

Salacious-12 karma

What reforms do you think are necessary in the UN structure and administration to make it a more effective governing body for fighting poverty?

HelenClarkUNDP13 karma

It's important for the UN development system to deliver in a co-ordinated and coherent way - this is a work in progress.

MiniPenguino11 karma

New Zealand was recently awarded the #1 spot on the CPI by What did you personally do in order to diminish corruption in New Zealand to a non-existant level?

The UNDP has been tasked with the MDG and attempting to see their fulfillment. Now, you have two years before the original timeline is past and there is almost nothing to show for it. Do you feel like the MDGs were put in place as a way to bring attention to the issues, or was it a realistic goal at the time to complete as many of these goals as possible within the 20 years?

HelenClarkUNDP14 karma

I answered the NZ transparency achievement issue earlier.

On the MDGs, there is an enormous amount to show for all the effort!

ShaziaMajeed10 karma

Do you think MDGs may be aligned to the needs of a country like Pakistan?

HelenClarkUNDP10 karma

Yes - the MDGs are highly relevant to advancing human development in Pakistan. They are incorporated in Pakistan's national development and poverty reduction strategies.

MiniPenguino10 karma

Concerning the UNDP, what comes after the Millennium Development Goals and what are your thoughts on the goals? Were they realistic to achieve? What obstacles stunted their progress? Should the international community expect MDG 2.0 in the near future?

HelenClarkUNDP9 karma

UNDP is fully involved in supporting the current global consultations and debate on the post-2015 development agenda. It should be bold and ambitious. The UN's member states will deliberate on the agenda - decisions need to be made in 2015.

ShaziaMajeed9 karma

Do you think monitoring and evaluation part of MDGs needs improvement?

HelenClarkUNDP15 karma

In general everyone involved in development needs to improve the design of initiatives so that the intended outcomes are clear, and then be able to monitor, evaluate, and report on progress towards those.

On the MDGs, more than 400 national-level MDG reports have been published.

serdar22259 karma

What is it so hard to find a job at UNDP? Do you share your personal email address that I can reach you? Thanks

HelenClarkUNDP18 karma

UNDP jobs are all advertised - follow @UNDPJobs on Twitter and follow the UNDP website.

3Phx9 karma

What do you think of what happened to Kimdotcom?

HelenClarkUNDP29 karma

It's before the courts - no comment.

iBleeedorange9 karma

Why is NZ against nuclear power so much? I understand not wanting any plants on your soil due to earthquakes and such, but why not any nuclear powered ships in your harbors, etc?

HelenClarkUNDP34 karma

There is a long history around NZ's nuclear-free status - which I fully support. Nuclear power has inherent risks - and the huge issue of dangerous waste. NZ does not need any of that.

Thetonn9 karma

As you were in charge during the infamous 'Urak-hai' insurgancy of the early 2000's, as New Zealand has managed to achieve peace and stability do you not think you are a more appropriate candidate to get peace in the middle east than Tony Blair?

HelenClarkUNDP8 karma

Haven't heard of that one !

70prichard8 karma

Thank you for doing this. I am currently working on my Master's Dissertation on using sport as the vehicle for development programs in Sub-Saharan Africa. From your experience as Administrator, do you feel that this is nothing more than a "vogue" idea that wil fade in the coming years or do you think that through assistance from wealthy sports clubs around the world that such programs could succeed and foster peaceful development for communities though a shared love of sport (football (soccer), basketball, etc.)?

HelenClarkUNDP12 karma

Sport is definitely a vehicle for development - teaches teamwork, discipline, dedication, setting and achieving goals and more. Women's sports can promote empowerment of women and girls. See

tn0c8 karma


HelenClarkUNDP14 karma

Apply widely; be prepared to work in places off the beaten track....

msprang8 karma

Do the the threats of cutting foreign aid in the American government's budget worrying? As an American, there are a small but very vocal minority here who see the U.N. as some sort of dastardly, sovereignty-stealing organization and this attitude is concerning.

HelenClarkUNDP6 karma

USA must make its own decisions. Secretary of State John Kerry recently made a powerful case for supporting development co-operation.

Choirsnz7 karma

Could you please arrange for the 60 members of the New Zealand Youth Choir to sing at the UN when it is in New York on tour on 5 and 6 December 2013? Roger Lloyd, Chief Executive, Choirs Aotearoa NZ Trust, [email protected]

HelenClarkUNDP17 karma

Can you work through the New Zealand Permanent Mission to the UN and Ambassador Jim McLay ?

martinpenner7 karma

Out of 10, how many points would you give the world for its performance on the MDGs?

HelenClarkUNDP8 karma

7.5/10 to date ! But we can achieve more in the last 1,000 days !!!! Help make it happen ! That's what the Bogota conference is about. Please promote MDG acceleration via Twitter #MDGs2013 and @UNDP - and to which will have livestreaming from the Bogota conference from Wednesday morning.

ShaziaMajeed6 karma

In your opinion, what are the main reasons of failure of MDGs and what changes are being introduced for the success this time?

HelenClarkUNDP12 karma

Overall the MDGs have been a success, and have energised development around the world.

In countries experiencing conflict or post-conflict fragility, however, it's very hard to progress the MDGs, or development in general. See my Oxford lecture of 2 weeks ago on conflict and development - it's on the UNDP website.

As well strong leadership and champions are important in driving MDG achievement. Funding helps too!

Mi_hermano6 karma

Helen, how do you think that organisations like the UN can help developing nations to develop their economies without resorting to very low wages and poor labour standards? Also how do you envisage the role of the UN development programme in an increasingly liberalised global economy? For example where the role of governments is reduced and largely replaced by private organisations.

HelenClarkUNDP8 karma

UNDP advocates inclusive and sustainable growth, and fully subscribes to the ILO's decent work agenda. Human development is advanced by having livelihoods which empower, provide income, and have dignity.

SailingMaktub6 karma

What's the word on the implimintation process of agenda 21 or what's now called rio +20.

HelenClarkUNDP8 karma

Agenda 21 promulgated at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio inspired people for two decades. Last year's Rio+20 takes it forward.

AmericanDerp6 karma

If I come to visit New Zealand, what is the one distinctively New Zealand activity or meal that a foreigner may not know about? That one thing that locals do and love, as a staple?

Possible local examples here: New Yorkers with their shitty (but tasty) warm water hot dogs from street vendors. Relaxing in Boston Common.

Not touristy things--stuff that's got a distinctively local flavor that any of you may do without even thinking about it, because it's just a Kiwi thing and a staple activity, food, or whatever else.

HelenClarkUNDP21 karma

New Zealanders are very creative people - across the visual, literary, and performing arts. So look out for the theatres, galleries, concert halls.

As wel,l the range of the NZ landscape is extraordinary - from a near sub tropical north to a near sub-Antarctic south. Mountains, coastlines, glaciers, forests - getting out there and enjoying all that is something many Kiwis love to do.

anshul28015 karma


What are your views about the MDGs. Are they realistic and can be achieved within the timeframe??

Secondly What are your views on UN Women and its large scale Governance Programme?

Plz reply..

HelenClarkUNDP6 karma

The MDGs are global goals - therefore more easily achieved by some countries than others - but they do set basic development benchmarks which are vital for all to achieve.

UNDP works closely with UN Women - we too promote gender equality and women's empowerment. That includes promoting women's political empowerment.

r28b5 karma

Hi Mrs. Clark, thanks for doing the AMA! My questions: In your honest opinion have national governments taken the MDG initiatives seriously? Has the UN been effective in promoting its message of development in the global south? What is one goal you see the international community accomplishing realistically in the next 5 years? Sorry for the formatting, I'm typing this on my phone. Thanks!

HelenClarkUNDP13 karma

Yes, governments have taken the MDGs seriously. Many countries have written them into their national development strategies and plans. In the next five years, surely every child can be enrolled in school ! Indeed the target is to achieve that by the end of 2015. But then we also need to focus on completing school and on the quality of education....

UptightSodomite5 karma

What might influence New Zealand to change their non-nuclear policy?

In what ways do you think New Zealand could strengthen its relationship with the US, and perhaps reengage a role in the ANZUS trilateral alliance, without budging on its nuclear policies?

HelenClarkUNDP24 karma

Nothing could - it's part of the Kiwi DNA.

kittykittykitkat5 karma

I guess you could consider this question a bit off topic, but It's eventually my goal to work for the United Nations, and I was wondering if you had any advice for young professionals hoping to get into this area of work?


HelenClarkUNDP6 karma

Follow the job sites - opportunities across the board.

FinKM4 karma

  • What are your thoughts on the creation of a UN Parliamentary Assembly?

  • Do you think the idea of a fully democratic UN will ever be realised, and if so how do we do it?

  • I would love to work for the UNDP or a related organisation one day, is there any need for engineers in the UN?

Thanks for this AMA by the way, the UNDP is an awesome organisation, more people should know about it.

HelenClarkUNDP5 karma

The UN and parliamentary organisations do link closely. As it stands, the UN is a member-state based assembly - at which governments represent countries.

In the General Assembly, every state has an equal vote. The UN Security Council, however, has long been targeted for reform.

Follow @UNJobs and @UNDPJobs.

herticalt4 karma

Given that Climate Change is expected to effect populations in the developing world the worst, in what way is your organization taking to address that?

HelenClarkUNDP6 karma

UNDP is very involved with strategies and practical action to address climate change - check out the website - - I've given a lot of speeches on the subject and on sustainable debelopment generally.

ARAghandour3 karma

Many people still do not know much about the MDGs. How can we make sure that more people are aware of what should happen after 2015, with the post MDGs bechmarks?

HelenClarkUNDP2 karma

We have to keep promoting achievement of and knowledge of the MDGs - and of the process being followed in developing the post-2015 agenda. Go to, and follow @UNDP on Twitter and other Un organisations to keep up with the latest.

grant02 karma

Hi Helen! I'm a 20-year-old Canadian politics students interested in pursuing a career in international development, especially working with youth and access to education. Do you have any career advice? (For instance, what Masters program I should pursue, etc.?) I'm starting my working experience at the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative this summer with a three-month internship in Delhi.

HelenClarkUNDP8 karma

A Master's Degree in a range of subjects works - law, economics, the social and environmental sciences - and more.

MilaanNovak1 karma

Dear Mrs. Clark, You visited Croatia recently. Have you been informed about violance of human rights of Serbian population there? More than 250.000 Serbian souls were expelled from their homes, they are facing problems with their schools accreditation, they are not allowed to use their cyrilic alphabet, Croatia moves to revoke ID cards of Serb refugees, Croatia celebrates the biggest ethnic cleansing in Europe as National Holiday. What do you intend to do about it?

HelenClarkUNDP5 karma

War anywhere often sees human rights violations on both sides. War is to be avoided at all costs, anywhere, any time.