UNFCCC: Christiana Figurees vacates office, expresses appreciation to governments


After six-year of two terms at the helm of the UN’s top climate body, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Executive Secretary, Ms Christiana Figurees, today bowed out of office.

The Costa Rican diplomat who was appointed as the Executive Secretary of UNFCCC by the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon in 2010 and was reappointed for a second three year term in July 2013 thanked her supporters on her twitter handle.

In a video message released to mark her last day as executive secretary of the UN body, she thanked everyone who supported the “truly amazing journey” from minimal action on climate change to “an historical agreement in Paris in December last year with almost the maximum amount of ambition imaginable.”

The ex-UN climate chief said the Paris Agreement had “opened the door to a sustainable and climate-safe future for all” and expressed her thanks to all of the governments of the world for helping to deliver the deal.

Figurees who is to be replaced as UNFCCC chief by Mexican diplomat Patricia Espinosa, is currently said to be considering a run for the soon to be vacant post of UN Secretary General.

Speaking in the short video Figueres said optimism about our ability to tackle climate change had grown in recent years, alongside the momentum behind climate action.

“With a long term goal of climate neutral growth and an acceptance that we must aim to limit global warming to as close to 1.5C as possible, the transformation we will witness over the coming months and years will be truly amazing,” she said. “We live in a great moment in history. It is a moment in which we are shaping our future.”

She added that it was possible to deliver an economy that will achieve climate goals and “meet the world’s needs for generations to come”.

Ms. Figueres has been involved in climate change negotiations since 1995. Initially a member of the Costa Rican negotiating team, she was also a member of the Executive Board of the Clean Development Mechanism and Vice President of the Bureau of the Conference of the Parties in 2008-2009.

The Costa Rican diplomat, who helped forge the first global warming accord to bind all nations in Paris last December, said in a letter that she would not accept requests to stay on after her term ends on July 6th.

In a letter she wrote early this year on her decision to quit the UN’s top job, she said: “It is with deep gratitude to all of you that I write to formally announce that I will serve out my term as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which finishes on July 6 2016, and not accept an extension of my appointment.

“We now move into a phase of urgent implementation. The journey that lies ahead will require continued determination, ingenuity and, above all, our collective sense of humanity and purpose. I know that together you will again rise to the task.”