Christiana Figueres of Costa Rica Selected as New U.N. Climate Chief


United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, appointed Costa Rican expert on climate change, Christiana Figueres, as the new U.N. climate chief on May 17th. She will replace Yvo de Boer as executive secretary of the United National Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) on July 1st.

De Boer, of the Netherlands, announced his resignation last February after the Copenhagen climate summit where 120 world leaders failed to come to a binding agreement on global warming.

Figueres, 53, is the first person in this U.N. position to come from a developing country. She has been a member of Costa Rica’s negotiating team on climate change since 1995. She represented the Caribbean and Latin American on the Executive Board of the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism in 2007, and from 2008 to 2009, Figueres served as vice president of the Bureau of the Convention.

Figueres said in a statement issued by the U.N., “I come to the secretariat with great respect for the institution and a deep commitment to the UNFCC process. There is no task that is more urgent, more compelling, or more sacred than that of protecting the climate of our planet for our children and grandchildren.”

When Figueres assumes her post on July 1st, it will only be five months until the next climate change meeting scheduled to take place this November in Cancun, Mexico. In an interview with Reuters, she said that crafting a new deal to fight global warming was not a priority for 2010, but that wealthy companies much first fulfill their pledges to provide financial support to aid climate change. Wendel Trio, Greenpeace’s climate policy coordinator, was quoted in an article in the Telegraph, noting that Costa Rica has already set an ambitious goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2021, with “the type of attitude we need on the global stage.”

A graduate of Swarthmore College with a master’s degree in economics from the London School of Economics, Figueres resides in the U.S. Her father, José Figueres Ferrer, served as president of Costa Rica three times.

Article by Julie Mitchell appearing courtesy Celsias.

photo: Steve Cadman

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

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