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Christiana Figueres launches UN secretary general bid

08 July 2016 | Mitigation

The worst-kept secret in climate politics is out: Christiana Figueres wants to lead the United Nations.

A day after she stepped down as UN climate chief, the Costa Rican government has proposed the 59-year-old as a candidate for UN secretary general.

Figueres led the UN to one of its greatest diplomatic triumphs last December, when 195 countries backed the Paris climate agreement, the result of over 25 years of negotiations.

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

“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.”

Figueres’ nomination was broadly welcomed by officials she worked closely with while running international climate negotiations.

“She demonstrated at the UNFCCC [UN climate body] she was not an average diplomatic official,” said Teresa Ribera, former Spanish environment minister and head of the Paris-based IDDRI think tank.

“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, co-executive director of Greenpeace International, said Figueres offered a unique skills from her time working in a tough multilateral area like the UN climate talks.

“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.”

So far 12 former diplomats, prime ministers and foreign ministers have declared interest in replacing Ban Ki-moon, who steps down at the stroke of midnight on 31 December.

UNESCO chief Irina Bokova, a Bulgarian and former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark, now leading the UN Development Programme, are among those in the running.

 

 

SOURCE: Climate Home