United Nations secretary-general, António Guterres has appointed Simon Stiell— a veteran advocate for climate ambition from a vulnerable Caribbean Island state— as the new executive secretary of the UN climate change secretariat based in Bonn, Germany.
With his appointment, Stiell takes over from Ibrahim Thiaw, a Mauritanian diplomat who leads the UN’s anti-desertification work and has also been doing the UN climate job on an interim basis for four weeks.
Former Mexican foreign minister, Patricia Espinosa had led the organisation for six tumultuous years, guiding it through crises including Donald Trump’s withdrawal of the US from the Paris Agreement, the Covid-19 pandemic and her own treatment for breast cancer.
On the global stage, Stiell’s calls for rapid reductions of emissions have put him at odds with big emerging economies like China, while his lobbying for climate finance has met resistance from rich countries like the US and EU.
In 2013, he was appointed to Grenada’s Senate and went on to lead ministries for agriculture and education before becoming Grenada’s minister for climate resilience in March 2018. His centre-right New National Party was voted out of government in June.
Former minister of state for the environment in Nigeria, Sharon Ikeazor and other ministers from Africa and Asia were reported to be the top contenders nominated for the position.
It was anticipated that the next head of the UN climate change secretariat would be African or Asian, especially given that previous executive secretaries have been from Europe and Latin America.
But following the endorsement of the bureau of the UNFCCC, Stiell was appointed as the new head of the climate change secretariat.
Story was adapted from Climate Home News.