The Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, who was influential in structuring the historic climate deal agreed in Paris in December, received the nomination from the President of her home country Costa Rica.

Figueres joins a list of candidates for the post, currently held by the South Korean diplomat Ban Ki-moon, who has also made climate change a key priority of his premiership.

Costa Rica President Luis Guillermo Solís said: “The United Nations, and the world, needs a General Secretary with the ability to build bridges, capable to consult and listen, ready to help resolve disputes, build agreements and anticipate problems. Christiana Figueres has proven to be that person.

“At a time when the UN faces major challenges both inside and outside of the organisation, she is the candidate who can help the body become more relevant in the multilateral world to regain credibility before the people – in the eyes of people who it is designed to protect and defend. She has the ability to renew our trust and inspire each and every one of us to act guided by the high purpose and moral values. “

‘One of the great leaders’

Christiana Figueres was hailed as “one of the great leaders of our time” when she announced her intentions to step down from the post as UN Executive Secretary in February.

Figueres took over as UN climate chief in 2010 in the wake of the problematic Copenhagen climate summit. The Costa Rican diplomat was instrumental in the COP21 deal ratified by 175 countries in New York in May.

During the two-week Paris talks, Figueres helped build the momentum for a successful global agreement, liaising with faith groups, businesses and NGOs on key climate issues.

In the weeks and months following the Paris climate summit, Figueres remained one of the most vocal actors on climate change mitigation, calling for change from big business and governments. Earlier in the year, she stated that COP 21 was the easy part of the deal, and that the hard work to drive a low-carbon future had to start now.

Her successor will most likely be Patricia Espinosa, after the Mexican diplomat received the nomination in a selection process led by current UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

George Ogleby

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