The top UN authority on global climate change, Christiana Figueres is the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). She played a key role in solidifying the Paris Agreement in December 2015 - the most important climate agreement in history - and has been credited with forging a new brand of collaborative diplomacy.
The top UN authority on global climate change, Christiana Figueres has been the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) since July 2010.
As a keynote speaker, she is well-placed to discuss a range of issues related to global economic, energy, environment, and development policy.
Assuming responsibility for the international climate change negotiations after the failed Copenhagen conference of 2009, Christiana was determined to lead the process to a universally agreed regulatory framework and was a linchpin in solidifying the historical Paris Agreement in December 2015. In the build-up toward that goal, she directed the successful Conferences of the Parties in Cancun 2010, Durban 2011, Doha 2012, Warsaw 2013, and Lima 2014.
Christiana has been credited with forging a new brand of collaborative diplomacy. Throughout her tenure, Christiana brought together national and sub-national governments, corporations and activists, financial institutions and communities of faith, think tanks and technology providers, NGOs and parliamentarians, to jointly deliver the unprecedented climate change agreement.
As well as being awarded the Great Cross of the Order of Merit of Germany (1985), she has been widely recognized for her six-year effort to construct the necessary collaborations to deliver a global legally binding agreement that had previously seemed impossible.
She was decorated as Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau of The Netherlands, and she received the Legion of Honor of France, the Grand Medal of the City of Paris, and the National Guayacan Medal from Costa Rica. Christiana also received the Ewald von Kleist Award from the Munich Security Conference and the 2015 Medal of Honour from The Guardian; she was named 2015 Hero of El Pais newspaper of Spain; and she received the 2016 Solar Champion Award from California’s Vote Solar, the Power with Purpose 2016 Award from Devex and McKinnsey, and the 2016 Joan Bavaria Award from CERES.
The Nature Journal of Science listed her first on the list of 2015 Top 10; Foreign Policy Magazine recognized her as the 2015 Global Thinker; and, in 2016, Fortune magazine listed her number seven of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders, the only female Latin American to be listed. Time magazine have also included her in the top 100 influential leaders of the world.
In the natural world, a newly discovered tropical moth (Struthoscelis christianafigueresae - soon to be published) and a wasp (Pseudapanteles christianafigueresae) have been named after her.
Christiana has a long trajectory in the field of global climate change, having been a member of the Costa Rican negotiating team 1995-2009, as well as played a number of key roles in the governance of the UNFCCC before formally joining the secretariat.
She initiated her life of public service as Minister Counselor at the Embassy of Costa Rica in Bonn, Germany in 1982. Moving to the USA, she was Director of Renewable Energy in the Americas (REIA) and, in 1995, founded the non-profit Center for Sustainable Development of the Americas (CSDA) which she directed for eight years.
She has a Masters Degree in Anthropology from the London School of Economics, and a certificate in Organizational Development from Georgetown University. Christiana received an honorary doctorate of law degrees from University of Massachusetts Boston in 2014 and Concordia University in 2015, as well as an honorary degree from Georgetown University in 2016. She speaks Spanish, English and German.