Christiana Figueres is the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), who led the recent COP 21 climate talks in Paris.

Why you should listen

Christiana Figueres has been the executive secretary of the UNFCCC since July 2010. She has directed five consecutive successful Conferences of the Parties, and is now charged with the intergovernmental process to deliver the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change.

Figueres has a long trajectory in the field of global climate change, having been a member of the Costa Rican negotiating team 1995- 2009, and having 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 nonprofit Center for Sustainable Development of the Americas (CSDA) which she directed for eight years. She designed and helped to establish national climate change programs throughout Latin America and served as high level advisor to both governments and private companies. In 2001 she received the Hero for the Planet Award from National Geographic.

What others say

“I don’t want to put people into a black box and say, ‘You’re the culprits,’ and point a blaming finger. It just helps absolutely nothing. Call it my anthropological training.” — quoted in the New Yorker, August 24, 2015

Christiana Figueres’ TED talk

More news and ideas from Christiana Figueres

Live from TED2016

Impossible isn’t a fact; it’s an attitude: Christiana Figueres at TED2016

February 17, 2016

In 2009, six months after a spectacularly failed climate change summit in Copenhagen, Costa Rican diplomat Christiana Figueres was appointed executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Her job: Leading the next round of international climate change negotiations. At that time, no one believed that we could ever get a global climate change agreement. “In fact,” Figueres says, […]

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