/ 8 March 2010

Van Schalkwyk nominated for top UN climate post

The government has nominated Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk to head the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Presidency said on Monday.

“In his previous portfolio as minister of environmental affairs and tourism, Minister Van Schalkwyk positioned South Africa as a true climate champion,” it said in a statement.

“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.”

The Presidency said a number of organisations had approached the government about Van Schalkwyk’s availability for the post, which becomes vacant on July 1, and for the global climate-change negotiations.

Given that South Africa would host and preside over climate-change negotiations next year, it would be “an honour and privilege” to have him head up the “important” UNFCCC, it said.

President Jacob Zuma discussed the issue with Van Schalkwyk on Sunday.

While the final decision on the appointment rested with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, the South African government would forward Van Schalkwyk’s name to him for consideration for the position. — Sapa