United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed his intention to appoint Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa Cantellano as new climate chief.
Espinosa Cantellano was nominated as executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The new UN head will oversee and strengthen the Paris climate change agreement that was signed in December by over 190 nations and commits to slashing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2100.
The climate chief will help bolster the agreement and promote the shift of the world economy from fossil fuels to cleaner energy forms such as solar and wind power.
“Ms. Espinosa Cantellano has more than 30 years of experience at highest levels in international relations, specializing in climate change, global governance, sustainable development and protection of human rights,” stated a UN news release on the recent nomination.
The potential future climate chief has been serving as Mexican ambassador to Germany since 2012, a post she also held from 2001 to 2002. Previously, she was also a foreign affairs minister from 2006 to 2012.
The 57-year-old Mexican diplomat achieved high marks when she presided at annual UN climate negotiations in Cancun in 2010 while she was a foreign minister. Her move to help negotiations on stopping global warming back on track – which was met with a standing ovation – followed the failure of a 2009 Copenhagen summit.
Costa Rican Christiana Figueres, who will step down this July after six years of heading the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, confirmed the nomination in a tweet.
According to the Bonn-based secretariat, the appointment needs to be green-lighted by an 11-member UN bureau, with members representing government groups worldwide and is currently helmed by French Environment Minister Segolene Royal.
The bureau maintains no history of challenging the secretary-general’s nominations, although some diplomats had expected that the task would move from Latin America.
In related news, Erik Solheim, the newly appointed head of the Nairobi-based United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), said he seeks to make the organization more relatable to the average person and to further engage the private sector in achieving global climate goals.
“To be successful in the UN, I think we also need to change our ways. Far too often people are speaking in very bureaucratic language and using lots of acronyms that people in the streets of Helsinki or Shanghai cannot understand and relate to,” he explained in a phone interview with Washington Post.
He said he wants to make the average Chinese or South African engage with the environment and alter their language into being “more emotional, more scientific, and less bureaucratic” in tone.
He also highlighted the role of the private sector in helping governments and the World Bank make things happen on the climate mitigation front, asserting that “no one can change the world alone.”