Climate Action

Christiana Figueres confirms UN Secretary General bid

Former United Nations climate chief, Christiana Figueres, has confirmed her bid to become head of the UN later this year

  • 07 July 2016
  • William Brittlebank

Former United Nations climate chief, Christiana Figueres, has confirmed her bid to become head of the UN later this year.

Ms Figueres (pictured left) announced her candidacy to replace Ban Ki-moon (right) the day after completing two 3-year terms as Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Figueres was a key influence in achieving the Paris Agreement on climate action that was agreed by 195 countries at the COP21 climate summit in December last year.

Ms Figueres, from Costa Rica, addressed an audience of senior politicians in the capital San Jose saying: “The Paris Agreement can be an exception or the norm for multilateralism in the 21st Century… I believe it can and should be the norm, as it is the only way we can face global challenges.”

The former Costa Rican government climate negotiator and Clean Development Mechanism board member added: “Impossible is not a fact, it’s an attitude… we can and should change that attitude because without optimism and firm conviction that we humans can solve problems we have created we cannot go far.”

The nomination was broadly welcomed by UN and government officials.

Teresa Ribera, former Spanish environment minister, said: “She demonstrated at the UNFCCC  she was not an average diplomatic official… She is someone who can combine creativity, a positive attitude to get the best from people and at the same time create a good atmosphere to encourage action.”

Jennifer Morgan of Greenpeace International, said: “The thing that strikes me is that she successfully brought the world together to seal an agreement. She knows how to work with countries of every kind and size to craft a deal.”

Twelve former diplomats, prime ministers and foreign ministers have confirmed their bids to replace South Korean Mr Ban, who steps down on 31 December.

The list of candidates includes:

  • Srgjan Kerim (Macedonia) – UN climate envoy in 2008
  • Vesna Pusic (Croatia) – former foreign minister
  • Igor Luksic (Montenegro) – prime minister, foreign minister
  • Danilo Turk (Slovenia) – former president, UN diplomat
  • Irina Bokova (Bulgaria) – UNESCO director general
  • Natalia Gherman (Moldova) – MP, ambassador
  • Antonio Guterres (Portugal) – prime minister, UN refugee commissioner
  • Helen Clark (New Zealand) – prime minister, head of UNDP
  • Vuc Jeremic (Serbia) – foreign minister
  • Susanna Malcorra (Argentina) – foreign minister, UN diplomat
  • Miroslav Lajcak (Slovakia) – minister of foreign and EU affairs