Mexican Patricia Espinosa new head of UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

Patricia Espinosa, the current Mexican Ambassador to Germany, has been nominated by Ban Ki-moon, UN General-Secretary, to be the new head of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The new selection was confirmed today in a tweet by Christiana Figueres, the current UN climate chief, who will be stepping down this summer after helping complete last December’s landmark Paris Agreement.

Patricia Espinosa UN climate chiefPatricia Espinosa Cantellano, born in 1958 in Mexico City, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from El Colegio de México. She received a Diploma in International Law at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Switzerland. (Image:

Ms. Espinosa, who is also a former ambassador to Slovakia, Austria and Slovenia, and served as Secretary of Foreign Affairs in the cabinet of President Felipe Calderón, will have the task of implementing the deal, which many expect to take force this year.

The Mexico City-born diplomat was praised for her work in 2010 as president of UN negotiations in Cancun, which gained some ground after the processes almost fell apart in the Copenhagen summit the previous year, which failed to produce an agreement.

Ms. Espinosa was selected from a highly-competitive shortlist of possible candidates, including France’s ambassador for climate change Laurence Tubiana, who was involved in bringing last year’s conference in Paris to fruition.

Ms. Tubiana congratulated Ms. Espinosa in a tweet today, saying she was a “a powerful woman for an exciting and challenging period.”

Christiana Figueres congratulates Patricia EspinosaChristiana Figueres, a Costa Rican diplomat, has been chief of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change since 17 May, 2010. She congratulated Patricia Espinosa on her new post, which she will assume when Ms. Figueres steps down in the summer. (Image:

Zoë Caron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s policy adviser tweeted “Espinosa is fantastic. I hugged her, hard, in 2010 when she lifted the UN out of the disappointment of Copenhagen.”

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an international environmental treaty that resulted from negotiations during the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. It entered into force on 21st March 1994.

The UNFCCC’s aim is to:

“Stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.”

Rather than setting binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions for each individual country or enforcement mechanisms, the framework outlines how specific international protocols or agreements may be negotiated to set binding limits on greenhouse gases.

In a press release today, UNNFCCC wrote:

“The UN Secretary General has concluded the selection process for the next Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC with the selection of HE Patricia Espinosa (Mexico).   At the same time, according to decision 14/CP.1,  the Secretary General  has started the process of consultation with the Bureau of the UNFCCC.  Once the consultation has concluded a further announcement will be made.”

Video – The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

This US Department of State video explains in sixty seconds what the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is. Listen to Clare Sierawski, Chief of Staff in the Office of the Special Envoy for Climate Change.