Zuma nominates Van Schalkwyk for top UN job

Monday, March 8, 2010

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma has nominated Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk for the post of the United Nations' new climate chief.

Van Schalkwyk has been tipped as a strong contender to take over from Yvo De Boer who headed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC). De Boer announced his resignation last month.

"The South African government will consequently forward the name of Minister Van Schalkwyk to the Secretary General for his further consideration," the Presidency said on Monday.

Zuma and the minister met on Sunday to discuss this issue as well as South Africa's global positioning, the Presidency said.

"The final decision on the appointment rests with the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki Moon."

Van Schalkwyk was deeply involved in climate change issues during his tenure as minister of environmental affairs and tourism.

He built a strong profile for himself during the UN climate treaty negotiations leading up to the Copenhagen summit late last year.

"During this period he commanded significant respect across the developing-developed country divide. This will stand him in good stead in this critical phase of driving the global climate change negotiations to conclusion," said the Presidency.

Given that South Africa will also be hosting and presiding over the climate change negotiations next year, the Presidency said it would be an "honour for the country to have one of its own to head up this very important UN institution".

If appointed, Van Schalkwyk will oversee one of the most important treaties of the 21st century - the 2012 treaty on climate change. The treaty is aimed at mitigating the causes and effects of climate change and shape the way countries power their economies.