United Nations: The UN panel on climate change has said it cannot ignore the sexual harassment allegations against its former chairman RK Pachauri but stressed that the organisation is well prepared for the future as it seeks to focus on involving developing countries more closely in its work.
After the charges were levelled against him last week, Pachauri quit the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and went on leave from TERI.
Pachauri stepped down from his post as chairman of the IPCC following accusations of sexual harassment levelled against him by a young woman co-worker in New Delhi.
He also resigned today from the prestigious Prime Minister's Council on Climate Change.
Last week Pachauri wrote to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon informing him of his decision to step down as chair after 13 years at the helm of the organisation during which he won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate issues.
At a review meeting of IPCC's work held in Nairobi yesterday, IPCC Secretary Renate Christ said the allegations against Pachauri "do not relate to the IPCC" but concern only his work with TERI in New Delhi.
"We cannot ignore the allegations against Dr Pachauri but the allegations are part of an ongoing case?and do not relate to the IPCC," she said, adding that the organisation would therefore not take questions on the proceedings.
Christ added that the panel had raised the issue of workplace respect at the meeting in light of the allegations.
"It is appropriate for us at this juncture to examine our own internal policies on harassment. Accordingly this week the panel emphasised the need to ensure a respectful workplace where everyone's rights are respected and upheld," Christ was quoted as saying in a report on news portal Responding to Climate Change.
Acting Chair Ismail El Gizouli said the IPCC has taken a series of decisions to make its reports more accessible and involve developing countries more closely in its work.
"We have taken stock of our future. We have been through a detailed process to examine how to continually improve our work, to make it as relevant and useful as possible, not only for government policymakers but for society at large," Gizouli said.
Among the moves agreed to this week at its session in Nairobi, Kenya, the panel decided to increase the representation of African and Asian countries in the IPCC Bureau by increasing the number of its members to 34 from 31.
The decisions, following a review of the future work of the IPCC over the past year-and-a-half, pave the way for the IPCC to prepare its next cycle of reports, which will be initiated by elections for a new Bureau and Chair in October.