NEW YORK, Jun 20 (IPS) – Patricia Espinosa’s six years as Govt Secretary of the UN’s local weather change secretariat ends on July fifteenth. Throughout her time in cost, she has led efforts to operationalize the 2015 Paris Settlement and inject larger urgency into the diplomatic course of. Though progress has been troublesome, COP26 in Glasgow added some momentum and arguably introduced the UN course of to the beginning of its subsequent stage: implementation.
As ideas flip to this subsequent, vital part, a number of names are already circulating for who the following chief ought to be. These embrace the UK’s Alok Sharma, who chaired COP26, former GEF head Naoko Ishii of Japan, and Egypt’s Atmosphere Minister Yasmine Fouad, Sri Mulyani Indrawati of Indonesia Finance Minister and Ambassador Liz Thomson from Barbados amongst others.
So, who ought to step into Espinosa’s footwear? And what kind of qualities will they should succeed?
For any senior UN job there’s a geopolitical calculation in play. With extra being requested from the World South in combating local weather change, there may be an argument to be made that the following Govt Secretary ought to hail from a creating nation. Some observers really feel this might assist construct belief within the local weather talks.
There’s an fairness argument in play right here, too. Traditionally, the primary three UNFCCC leaders have been Europeans: Michael Zammit Cutajar of Malta, then Joke Waller-Hunter and Yvo de Boer, each from the Netherlands. The subsequent two got here from the Americas: Christiana Figueres from Costa Rica, and Mexico’s Patricia Espinosa.
An argument might simply be made that the following chief ought to come from Asia-Pacific or Africa. Curiously, the following two COPs can be in these areas: COP27 in Egypt and COP28 within the United Arab Emirates.
However which ought to or not it’s: Africa or Asia-Pacific? On this respect, it’s value noting that two Africans already lead the opposite so-called Rio Conventions: Ibrahim Thiaw is answerable for the UN’s efforts on desertification, whereas Elizabeth Mrema heads-up biodiversity. Primarily based on this, there’s a sturdy case for appointing a creating nation individual from Asia or the Pacific or maybe from the Small Island Creating States as they’re hit worst by the impacts of local weather change.
Searching for brave, ego-free networkers
No matter geography, what kind of qualities would a future chief want? We imagine somebody with wonderful networking expertise is important, particularly as we transfer from negotiating into implementation mode.
A naturally-charismatic determine who can construct trusting relationships and convey individuals collectively can be important. These are qualities Christiana Figueres deployed to nice impact to assist start the Paris Settlement.
Any future UN local weather chief can even want to pay attention to the necessity for subtlety. Actually, we’d recommend the following chief will have to be nearly “egoless” of their pursuit of progress. The very best UN leaders know when to let their companions—the politicians holding the COP presidency, as an illustration, in addition to different governments heads—take middle stage.
They know not solely when to step up, but in addition when to step again and share the limelight. On this respect, Michael Zammit Cutajar—who led the UN local weather secretariat in its early years—was a grasp, as was deputy chief Richard Kinley (2006-2017).
There is a vital lesson right here: any chief who believes it’s all about them, or that they will allure or compel governments to behave, can be doomed to failure. It is a explicit threat for candidates who’ve been senior politicians prior to now. They must curb the intuition to garner headlines for themselves. On this function the power to pay attention, not simply discuss, can be vital.
The subsequent Govt Secretary ought to ideally have been lively within the local weather negotiations for a while. It is a difficult subject they usually might want to have an excellent understanding of not simply the problems or political positions of varied nation groupings, but in addition the people who find themselves doing the negotiating.
Diplomacy is all the time a posh internet of geopolitical positions, however beneath this are people. An efficient chief will get to know the individuals concerned and search to construct private belief. Having somebody who already is aware of the important thing people concerned will assist them hit the bottom working.
The function can even require each braveness and persistence. These are qualities we imagine are important for any profitable chief with regards to multilateral environmental agreements. It’s one thing we discover in-depth in our ebook, Heroes of Environmental Diplomacy: Profiles in Braveness. Sure, the science is telling us we should supercharge our efforts and dash to the end line. Nonetheless, persistence and the information that every one diplomacy is a marathon can be wanted by whoever takes on this necessary function.
Lastly, that is such an necessary appointment that we’d suggest the hiring course of be undertaken within the open. What we imply by that is that there may very well be “hustings” for member states and stakeholders to query the candidates, as there may be for the UN Secretary Common’s place. “City corridor” conferences with employees would even be helpful so their enter may be thought of.
It’s not hyperbole to recommend this appointment comes at a vital time for our planet. The necessity for impressed, brave and distinctive management has by no means been larger.
We want the selectors—and their selection—the most effective of luck.
Chris Spence and Felix Dodds are co-editors of Heroes of Environmental Diplomacy: Profiles in Braveness (Routledge, 2022). Felix can also be Adjunct Professor on the College of North Carolina (UNC) and an Affiliate Fellow on the Tellus Institute. Chris is an environmental advisor and award-winning author. Each have been concerned within the UN local weather negotiations for the reason that Nineteen Nineties.
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