The delegates say farewell to the “Climate Queen” Christiana Figueres

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26 May The delegates say farewell to the “Climate Queen” Christiana Figueres

The Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC Christiana Figueres, who is stepping down from her position on 6 July, took part in her last session of negotiations.

“We will really miss you!”

While this session of negotiations represents an important stage for the implementation of the Paris Agreement, it is particularly unique for the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, Christiana Figueres, who is stepping down from her position on 6 July next. It is in fact the last time that she will meet all the delegates together. The latter met in a special plenary session on Thursday 26 March, to say their farewells to the one who occupied the position for six years.

It was an emotion-filled meeting where everyone drew from their own personal recollection to pay tribute to the woman who played a key role in reaching the adoption of the Paris Agreement. Because, for many delegates, Christiana Figueres is the only Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC that they have ever known, as Jo Tyndall (New Zealand) APA co-chair underlined. “We will really miss you!” she continued.

SBI Chair Tomasz Chruszczow (Poland) recalled Nelson Mandela’s quotation displayed in  Christiana Figueres’ office at their first meeting: “It always seems impossible until it’s done”. A dictum that never ceased to guide the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC in her functions.

“Hasta la victoria siempre”

Christiana Figueres then took the floor to thank the seven COP Presidents, in their own language, with whom she had closely worked, insisting particularly on France: “3,000 times thank you!”. A tearful Christiana Figueres reiterated her deep gratitude to her staff: “I will always be grateful to you”. Then she thanked the delegates for the privilege of having worked with them for all these years (read her farewell address to delegates here).

 

Her speech ended with a standing ovation from the hall (read full speech: here). Then, the future Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, Patricia Espinosa, went onto the stand to pay tribute, in turn, to her friend (find out more on Patricia Espinosa).

 

The floor was then given to Laurence Tubiana, Ambassador for Climate Negotiations, who wished to “celebrate an incredible friendship”, before continuing in Spanish: “Las latinas continuan la lucha. Hasta la victoria siempre!”

“Climate Queen”

A rare event in a session of negotiations then occurred. The SBI chair gave the floor to civil society representatives, who burst into a song entitled “Climate Queen”, a remake of ABBA’s famous song. Christiana Figueres then danced towards them.

 

 

 

 

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