New UNFCCC chief nominated by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Ilario D'Amato
Reading time: 3 minutes
3 May 2016

NEW YORK: The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has just chosen Patricia Espinosa, a leading Mexican diplomat, as the next Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The appointment is expected to be shortly confirmed by the Bureau of the UNFCCC.

Patricia Espinosa, who served as Mexico’s ambassador to Germany since 2013, was Secretary of Foreign Affairs in Mexico between 2006 and 2012. During her appointment, she chaired the Conference of the Parties (COP) 16 in 2010 in Cancun, which laid the foundations for the historic Paris Agreement at COP21 last December.

“The Climate Group is delighted that Patricia Espinosa has been chosen as the new UNFCCC Executive Secretary and wholeheartedly congratulates her on her appointment,” says Mark Kenber, CEO, The Climate Group.

“As president of COP16 in Cancun, her skilled diplomacy ensured that climate negotiations got back on track after the disappointment in Copenhagen a year earlier and set the stage for negotiations that ultimately culminated in the Paris Agreement just five months ago.

“We look forward to working with her to implement the Paris Agreement and drive the ambitious climate action needed to get the world on a path that keeps temperature increases well below two degrees.”


Patricia Espinosa will succeed Christiana Figueres in the post, who was twice elected UNFCCC’s Executive Secretary in 2010 and 2013, playing a crucial role in the COP21 success. Named by Time Magazine among the 100 most influential people in the world, Christiana Figueres has worked for more than 40 years on environmental issues.

The Climate Group worked with Christiana Figueres on pivotal moments in the lead up to COP21, including, at Climate Week NYC 2014 and 201 when she launched the We Mean Business coalition. Climate Week NYC is “important to help galvanize business and civil society climate action,” she said, “including faith, health, investor groups.”

The imminent Business & Climate Summit, brought to you by The Climate Group, will further accelerate such climate action. Taking place in June 28-29 in London, the annual forum will bring together businesses, investors and policymakers to work toward a low carbon future.


A low carbon transition is already underway, as last year’s record-breaking global clean energy investment – US$329 billion, which is about six times the amount invested in 2004 – clearly demonstrates. But while much progress has been made in the last decade, many challenges await Patricia Espinosa in the UNFCCC’s journey toward COP22 in Morocco later this year.

While the Paris Agreement has been hailed as a historic success for climate action, it is still not enough to keep the world under the 2 degrees Celsius threshold, as a report recently published by the UNFCCC itself shows.

In particular, now that almost all the Parties have signed the climate accord, countries must implement what was agreed. “Agreement is one thing, and implementation is another,” said Mark Kenber, commenting on the signing ceremony of the accord held last month in New York.

“In the effects after Paris, it is often easy to forget all the hard work that is yet to come and – as in many things – if we can ignore hard work, we will.”

“It is therefore integral we maintain momentum this year, not only in action to deliver the Paris Agreement, which we are seeing across the work of our We Mean Business partners and our States & Regions activity, but also, maintain the public momentum – the idea that ‘something has changed’ after Paris.”

by Ilario D'Amato

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