Helen Clark joins The Elders as group continues push for courageous leadership on existential threats


Media release: The Elders today welcomed former New Zealand Prime Minister and UNDP leader Helen Clark as the newest member of their group.

Helen Clark served three consecutive terms as Prime Minister from 1999 to 2008, before becoming the first woman to lead the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), where she served two terms as Administrator from 2009 to 2017.

Helen Clark becomes the twelfth current Elder, as the group of former world leaders continues its call for bold decision-making on global challenges. The group is asking serving world leaders to show a crisis mindset, and take courageous action on existential threats such as the climate crisis, pandemics and nuclear weapons.

Throughout her career in politics and public life Helen Clark has been a strong advocate for economic and social justice, gender equality and climate action. She continues to be a passionate defender of multilateralism, and has played critical roles in support of nuclear disarmament, sustainable development and public health.

In July 2020, she was appointed by the Director-General of the World Health Organization as a Co-Chair of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response together with her fellow Elder, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. She continues to push for full implementation of its recommendations to better protect the world against future pandemics.

Brought together by Nelson Mandela in 2007, The Elders is a group of independent global leaders working together for peace, justice, human rights and a sustainable planet.


Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders, said:

“I am delighted to welcome Helen Clark to our group, having worked closely alongside her in many capacities over the years. Helen understands the need for bold leadership on global challenges, as she has demonstrated throughout her distinguished career. She brings an important perspective to The Elders as a woman leader from the Asia-Pacific region with a deep commitment to equality, peace, justice and global cooperation. Her leadership on pandemic issues will be greatly valued as Elders continue to develop our work on this existential threat. I am also very pleased that her appointment brings the group of Elders back to gender parity.”


Helen Clark said:

“The Elders are a vital voice for ethical leadership when the world needs it most. It is an honour to join this distinguished group. I have admired their work for many years, and worked with different Elders in different ways to advance the ideals of peace, justice, human rights and a sustainable planet that lie at the heart of Nelson Mandela’s mandate. I look forward to deepening these relationships, and our collective impact on the existential threats facing the world, in the months and years ahead.”




Helen Clark
Former Prime Minister of New Zealand and head of the UN Development Programme; Co-Chair of the WHO Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response; an advocate for multilateralism and nuclear disarmament.

1981 First elected to New Zealand Parliament

1999-2008 Prime Minister of New Zealand

2009-2017 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator

2020 Appointed Co-Chair of The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPR)

2023 Joined The Elders