Christiana Figueres selected as new UN Climate Chief

Experienced Costa Rican diplomat selected as executive secretary of the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat, reports Envido.

Online PR News – 28-May-2010 – – Christiana Figueres was formally appointed yesterday by UN Secretary Ban Ki moon as the new UN climate chief, and will take over the role from Yvo de Boer from 1 July. The decision was endorsed yesterday at a meeting of the Bureau of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Figueres has been a member of the Costa Rican climate change negotiating team since 1995, and has a long history with the UNFCCC. From 2007 to 2009 she was vice-president of its bureau, representing Latin America and the Caribbean, and over the years she has chaired numerous international negotiations.

UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said the appointment was made after consultations with parties to the convention. He added: "Figueres is an international leader on strategies to address global climate change and brings to this position a passion for the issue, deep knowledge of the stakeholders, and valuable hands-on experience with the public sector, non-profit sector and private sector."

There had been speculation that the South African tourism minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk was favourite to get the job, but Figueres succeeded among a field of candidates from developing countries.

Figueres’ father, Jose Figueres, who led the 1948 revolution and founded modern democracy in Costa Rica, was president of the country three times. Her mother, Karen Olsen Beck, served as Costa Rican ambassador to Israel in 1982 and was elected a member of Congress from 1990-1994.

Figueres herself has also held a number of government posts and is one of the region's foremost environmental experts, having served as the Director of Renewable Energy in the Americas (REIA), and founded the Center for Sustainable Development of the Americas (CSDA), a non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting the participation of Latin American countries in the climate change convention.

Figueres will have five months to lay the basis for this year's UN climate change summit in Cancun

Upon taking up the role, Figueres will have just five months to lay the groundwork for this year's UN climate change summit in Cancun, Mexico in November. While most participants in the talks have accepted that a binding treaty is highly unlikely to be agreed this year, the Mexico summit will have to deliver substantial progress on a number of key issues if a deal is to be finalised at next year's summit in South Africa.

Vitally, Figueres will have to try to find a way to break the deadlocks between the industrialised nations, emerging economies and developing countries that have stalled progress on issues such as emissions targets, climate funding, deforestation and carbon trading.