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UN appoints Simon Stiell as executive secretary of climate change secretariat

UN appoints Simon Stiell as executive secretary of climate change secretariat
August 15
19:06 2022

António Guterres, United Nations secretary-general, has appointed Simon Stiell as the new executive secretary of the UN climate change secretariat based in Bonn, Germany. 

In July, Patricia Espinosa, Mexican diplomat, stepped down as the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) after six years of heading the secretariat.

In her absence, Ibrahim Thiaw, executive secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), was appointed in acting capacity. 

Sharon Ikeazor, former minister of state for the environment in Nigeria, alongside other ministers from Africa and Asia, were among the top contenders nominated for the position.

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There were expectations that the next head of the UN climate change secretariat would be African or Asian since previous executive secretaries have been from Europe and Latin America.

However, following the endorsement of the bureau of the UNFCCC, Stiell, who is from Grenada, Northern America, was appointed as the new head of the climate change secretariat. 

“From March 2013 to June 2022, Simon Stiell served as a senior minister in the Government of Grenada holding the portfolios of Minister for Climate Resilience and the Environment for five years,” a statement by UNFCCC reads. 

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“He also served as Minister for Education and Human Resource Development, Minister of State with responsibility for Human Resource Development and the Environment, and as a junior minister within the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment.

“Mr. Stiell served as member of Grenada’s Upper House of Parliament, the Senate, where he held the position of Leader of Government’s Business throughout this period.

“Prior to his return to Grenada, Simon Stiell had a successful career spanning fourteen years within the technology sector, holding senior executive positions in a number of industry leading companies, from Silicon Valley based technology start-ups, to major corporations including Nokia and G.E.C.

“He originally trained as an engineer and holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Westminster in the United Kingdom.”

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In a Twitter post congratulating Stiell on the appointment, Thiaw wrote: “I warmly congratulate Simon Stiell on his appointment as the new UNFCCC chief. I look forward to his leadership and to uniting our efforts to address the interconnected challenges of climate change, land degradation and drought.”

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This story is published in partnership with Report for the World, a global service program that supports local public interest journalism.

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