CAN Letter: Civil Society Recommendation on criteria for selection of UNFCCC Executive Secretary, April 2016
~Dear H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon and members of Bureau of COP UNFCCC,
We, Climate Action Network (CAN), a worldwide network of over 950 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)
in more than 110 countries, are writing to you in regards to the upcoming selection of the UNFCCC Executive
CAN believes that the role of the UNFCCC Executive Secretary is crucial for efficient and effective implementation
of the Paris Agreement as well as for ensuring that the ultimate objective of the UNFCCC – ‘stabilization of
greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic
interference with the climate system’ – is fulfilled.
In light of this, CAN would like to outline some of the qualities required for the selection of the incoming UNFCCC
• Trusted: The incoming Executive Secretary should be trusted across the spectrum of countries. She/he
should have the ability to build bridges across different countries and manage their competing
demands. The Executive Secretary should also promote transparent practices and procedures to enable
honesty and trust amongst Parties and Observers.
• Bold and Visionary: The incoming Executive Secretary should have considerable expertise in
facilitating effective intergovernmental processes and a clear vision for how to facilitate the acceleration
of action on climate change as necessitated by science. The Executive Secretary must stand in solidarity
with vulnerable peoples and the evidence in order to stand up against the pressures of the fossil fuel
industry and climate skeptics.
• Global Ambassador for Climate Action: The Executive Secretary should be a recognised ambassador
for accelerating climate action amongst the broader international community, in particular to new
audiences like the financial community and other international forums, such as the G20.
• Values Civil Society: The Executive Secretary should be respectful of civil society and their role in
international negotiations. She/he should hold civil society’s role in high regard and understand the
valuable role civil society plays at the international, national and local levels.
• Sensitive to the needs of the most vulnerable: The incoming Executive Secretary should be able to
identify with the plight of vulnerable communities and should be able to steer UNFCCC towards greater
ambition and an enabling framework that helps these communities in their struggle.
• Institutional Knowledge: The incoming Executive Secretary should have experience of the UNFCCC
negotiations, internalise the political spirit witnessed in Paris, and have an excellent network of support
from participants within the negotiations.
• Confidence in delivering multi-layered diplomacy: She/he should have the confidence and
competence to undertake multi-layered diplomacy with both state and non-state actors, complemented
with continued engagement with leaders, CEOs, Mayors, etc. to help connect the international space for
accelerated national ambition.
• Excellent Communication skills: The incoming Executive Secretary should have the ability to
communicate to a variety of constituencies and transcend different audiences. Post Paris, a new and
refreshing narrative will be required to reinvigorate accelerated action on climate change.