05 April 2010

Who Will be the Next UN FCCC Chair?

India Today has a short piece on the international horserace to become the new head of the Framework Convention on Climate Change.

India has pulled out all the stops for the nomination of its candidate to the post of executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC). Environment secretary Vijai Kumar Sharma is India's candidate for the top executive post, which is nominated by the United Nations general-secretary. The new executive secretary will be appointed by July 1.

The UNFCCC post fell vacant after Yvo de Boer stepped down in February and India was the first to put up its candidate.

A nomination to the post is expected to add to India's clout in climate negotiations.

Besides India, South Africa and Costa Rica have also announced their candidates.

Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh has been trying to drum up support for Sharma. According to him, China has expressed its support for the Indian candidate.

Letters detailing Sharma's credentials and track record have been sent to countries, including the US, the EU and African and G-77 nations, to create an atmosphere that favours his nomination.

"We are trying to help our candidate by letting people know how appropriate he is for the post,'' environment ministry sources said.

One of the important factors that could favour Sharma is that he was the coordinator for the G-77 countries and China in 1997 when the Kyoto Protocol was signed. Also, he is an experienced IAS officer and wrote the white paper based on which the Delhi High Court ordered the use of CNG for transport in New Delhi.

A factor that could obstruct his nomination, though, is that South Africa has fielded a candidate - its Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk. South Africa is one of the four BASIC countries (India, Brazil and China are the others) and India was banking on these countries to support its candidate.

There is hope, though, as the BASIC countries meet in Cape Town at the end of April.

Another possible choice before UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- Moon is Costa Rica's candidate, Christina Figures. However, although she scores high on experience, a factor that could work against her is that an important post in the UN Development Programme recently went to Rebecca Grynspan, another Costa Rican.