Shortlist for UN climate chief down to two: diplomat

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Only two of 11 official candidates to succeed outgoing UN climate chief Yvo de Boer of the Netherlands are still in the running, a diplomat said Tuesday.

The choice has boiled down to climate negotiator Christiana Figueres of Costa Rica and South African Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk, he said on the margins of a meeting of some three dozen environment ministers.

"There are only two candidates left for UNFCCC secretary, Costa Rica and South AFrica," the diplomat, who asked not to be named, said on the sidelines of the gathering aimed at breathing life into global climate talks.

The Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) plays a pivotal role in shepherding the UN negotiations to find a durable solution to the urgent threat of global warming.

De Boer took on the job in September 2006 and is to resign at the end of June.

After the near failure of the Copenhagen summit, which collapsed into procedural chaos and acrimony before world leaders cobbled together an 11th-hour accord, finding the right person to guide the UN talks has taken on added urgency.

Nominated by South African President Jacob Zuma, van Schalkwyk served as environment minister from 2004 to 2009. In that capacity, he played an active role in global talks in the run up to Copenhagen.

Figueres has long experience in the UN climate arena, both as a negotiator and a UNFCCC official.

A total of eleven countries nominated candidates, according to the UN. A UNFCCC official declined to comment.

The so-called Petersberg Climate Dialogue outside Bonn is the highest-level gathering of politicians on climate since Copenhagen. The two-and-a-half day, closed-door sessions ends Tuesday.

© 2010 AFP

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