Jacinda Ardern 'world's greatest leader', beating out pioneers of COVID-19 vaccines in magazine rankings

Jacinda Ardern 'world's greatest leader', beating out pioneers of COVID-19 vaccines in magazine rankings
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An American magazine has named New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern the world's greatest leader, beating out pioneers of a key ingredient in COVID-19 vaccines helping millions of people around the world.

In new 'World's 50 Greatest Leaders' rankings released on Thursday (NZT), business magazine Fortune has put Ardern in the top spot, saying what she has accomplished recently "is astounding". It says "she has all but eliminated COVID-19" in New Zealand and adopted "world-leading" policies in some areas, like climate change, gender-equity and equal pay policies. 

Despite that, Climate Change Minister James Shaw said last month "we need to step up our response" to global warming, with a report showing emissions increasing by 2 percent in the 12 months from the end of 2018. 

However, he noted that the report doesn't take into account measures introduced by the Government since 2019, like putting a cap on the Emissions Trading Scheme, the clean car standard and investment in public transport. 

"Whereas the period from 2018 to 2019 has taken us further away from meeting the targets we committed to in law, on average New Zealand’s emissions have remained flat for the last 15 years," Shaw said in April.

Fortune says Ardern has also "sealed her position as a great leader" through her leadership during the Christchurch terror attack and the White Island eruption.

"Ardern’s party won landslide reelection in October, fueled by her star power, her straight talk, and the fact that her government’s heavy restrictions on international travel made it possible for life to continue with relative normality within New Zealand’s borders.

"Last year, Ardern’s administration made it easier for women to negotiate with their employers for more equitable pay."

Coming in second place are the "mRNA pioneers". Fortune says before 2020, no vaccine using mRNA "had ever been approved by regulators for widespread use". 

"Today, two of the world's most effective and widely used COVID-19 vaccines - developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna - rely on mRNA, and some 250 million doses have been administered in the US alone, with hundreds of millions more in arms worldwide," it says.

"But those vaccines might still be stuck on the drawing board if a handful of farsighted leaders hadn’t been ready to bet on mRNA when the odds were long."

Rounding out the top five is Dan Schulman, the chief executive of PayPal; Dr John Nkengasong, the director of African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention; and the group who formulated the plan to save the NBA 2019-20 season. 

Further down on the list are the likes of Dolly Parton, Tom Brady,and Naomi Osaka.