Van Schalkwyk nominated to succeed De Boer as UN climate chief

8th March 2010 By: Christy van der Merwe

The South African government has put forward the name of Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk to the United Nations (UN) to potentially lead the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The current UNFCCC executive secretary Yvo de Boer resigned from the position with effect July 1.

The South African government said that it was approached by a number of its partners in the developing and developed world, including governments, business institutions and nongovernmental organisations, about the availability of Van Schalkwyk to lead this UN institution and the global climate change negotiations.

"It would indeed be an honour and privilege for the country to have one of its own to head up this very important UN institution," said the Presidency.

"In his previous portfolio as Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Minister Van Schalkwyk positioned South Africa as a true climate champion. During this period he commanded significant respect across the developing-developed country divide. This will stand him in good stead in this critical phase of driving the global climate change negotiations to conclusion," said the Presidency in a statement.

South Africa will also be hosting and presiding over the climate change negotiations in 2011, on the eve of the coming into force of a new global climate change regime, which would follow from the Kyoto Protocol.

President Jacob Zuma met with Minister Van Schalkwyk on Sunday to discuss this issue in the context of the urgency of addressing climate change as well as South Africa's global positioning.

The final decision on the appointment rests with the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon.