Calls grow for African to head UN climate body

Christiana Figueres announced that she will step down as head of the UN climate change convention in July. Some would like to see an African take the helm given the leading role played by developed nations to secure a deal at last year’s UN climate talks in Paris.

Saleemul Huq, director of the Dhaka-based International Centre for Climate Change and Development, would like to see “the least developed countries have a chance at that particular spot,” reports the Thomas Reuters Foundation.

According to Huq, some of the world’s least developed and poorest countries played a key role in the success of the Paris climate talks. They joined forces with the African group of nations and small island states to convince participants at the Paris summit to adopt a long-term “aspirational” goal of limiting climate change to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels – a meaningful deviation from the 2-degree limit previously sought.

Poorer nations also successfully pushed for a permanent international mechanism to deal with severe losses and damage from climate change, such when island states become uninhabitable due to sea-level rise, explained Huq, adding that a UN panel dealing with innovative finance to tackle climate change is focusing on loss and damage this year.

“Marrakech will be the loss and damage COP,” said Huq said, referring to the annual UN climate change conference, which will be held in Morocco in November.

As the Thomas Reuters Foundation points out, the search for Figueres’ replacement could be complicated by recent resignations of other key figures, including Hela Cheikhrouhou of the Green Climate Fund and Laurent Fabius, France’s former foreign minister who chaired the Paris climate talks. He has been replaced by France’s environment minister Ségolène Royal, who will preside over the climate change talks until France hands over to Morocco at the Marrakech summit later this year.


Image credit: Arend Kuester, flickr/Creative Commons

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