India was the first out of the gate by nominating Environment Secretary Vijai Sharma. India claims its pick is backed by China and Brazil. That’s significant because those three countries make up 3/4ths of the so-called BASIC group, an important negotiating bloc in climate change debates. However, the fourth BASIC country — South Africa — has put forward its own nominee, former environment minister Marthinus Van Schalkwyk. Costa Rica may have eyed this split in BASIC when it nominated its top climate negotiator Christiana Figueres earlier this week.
So these are the three currently in the running for the spot. According to a close observer of international climate negotiations who is not affiliated with the United Nations, “The front runners…the two most talked about are most definitely van Shalkwyk and Figueres. They both have a lot of experience in the negotiations [and] respect from parties.”