Grenada’s former environment minister Simon Steele was named the new UN climate change chief on Monday, replacing Mexico’s Patricia Espinosa, the UN secretary-general’s office said.
The appointment of the long-time advocate for climate action was endorsed by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which governs all climate negotiations, including the Paris Agreement.
Steele will take up the post soon, a spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, suggesting he will be working at the next UN climate conference, COP27, in Egypt in November.
A member of Grenada’s government from 2013 to June, Steele served as Minister of the Environment and Climate Resilience for the past five years, tirelessly calling during COP summits for greater progress in the fight against global warming.
Guterres’ office called Steele, who trained as an engineer, “a true champion for developing creative approaches for our collective global response to the climate crisis” and said he has unique skills honed over a 30-year career.
He will replace Espinoza, who served as head of the UNFCCC for two terms, from 2016 to July.
Until Steele takes over, Mauritanian Ibrahim Tiaou remains as UN climate change chief in addition to his duties as head of the UN agency that fights desertification.