links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic

Follow us on Twitter


Posted on on March 9th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

The suggestion of Mr. Marthinus van Schalkwyk presents some very interesting dilemmas:

– first, it proposes an African for the position and we believe this is a bit like putting the carriage before the horse. Indeed, we say all the time that Africa is suffering because of the sins of others, so Africa and the Island States have most reasons to see a Climate  agreement become reality, but then it is not the sufferers, but the sinners, that will have to sign up to an enforceable  agreement, and those are mainly China and the US. Here indeed South Africa is one of the additional three IBSA states that participated in the formulation of the Copenhagen notice. If one where to try to pick a lead country from among the IBSA – we suggested it be Brazil as it would have the least conflicts of interest from among the three.

– then, the appointment of Mr. van Schalwyk, a South African, would also mean that there will be the third Dutch person on that job in a row, albeit, this Dutchman comes from South Africa and not from the Netherlands, but nevertheless the subject will come up.

– also, as we know the 2010 meeting of the UNFCCC, or COP 16, will be held in Mexico, while the following one, the 2011 COP 17 is intended for South Africa. An appointment of a South African to head the UNFCCC at this time would mean that the Mexico meeting that is limping anyway – as we just posted an hour ago – will become completely useless. Some, like the Latin American States, will find this objectionable. This one point leaves us perplexed if we sense that Cancun is just one more UN ritual led so that it has beforehand no chance to succeed – who knows – maybe the appointment of Mr. van Schlkwyk could actually result in annulment of a UN scheduled event. That could then be the first emissions saving UN led activity.

– the last point has to do with the backing of Mugabe’s Zimbabwe from South Africa in the leadership of The UN Commission on Sustainable Development. The facts are that the CSD was destroyed because of that backing by South Africa, and the CSD is needed if one wants to find a base for climate activities at the UN. That past experience might have left, and who knows, perhapse still creates, a sour taste when looking at South Africa’s place in UN leadership. Will we do away also with the CSD and base climate on the Committee of 19 Wise Men that the UN Secretary-General just established?

Without taking a stand on the candidate himself, nevertheless the first three points we raised will probably have to be weighed against the attributes that might be proposed when other names become available.


from: BuaNews (Tshwane)
South Africa: Zuma Nominates Van Schalkwyk for Top UN Job.

8 March 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.

And from NASTASYA TAY (AP):  South African minister is nominated for UN post.

JOHANNESBURG — The South African president’s office announced the nomination of its tourism minister for the United Nations’ top climate post on Monday.

The office said in a press release that Marthinus van Schalkwyk is a candidate to direct the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change. The current leader of the post, Yvo de Boer, announced his resignation in February and will step down July 1.
Van Schalkwyk was South Africa’s former minister for environmental affairs and tourism and is well-regarded in climate change circles. He has a reputation as an effective bridge-builder in a process that often pits developing against industrially advanced countries.

“We are pleased to know Minister Van Schalkwyk is being considered and would be very confident that he would be equal to the task of replacing Mr. de Boer,” said Themba Linden, Political Advisor at Greenpeace Africa. “By all accounts, he has an excellent standing as a negotiator, and has earned a great deal of respect for being very engaged and informed.”

Van Schalkwyk’s chances of being appointed are bolstered by the high likelihood that South Africa will host the U.N.’s climate change negotiations in 2011.

South Africa along with the U.S., India, Brazil and China drafted the climate change agreement reached in Denmark in December. The compromise calls for reducing emissions to keep temperatures from rising more than 2 C (3.6 F) above preindustrial levels. The nonbinding agreement also calls on rich nations to spend billions to help poor nations deal with drought and other impacts of climate change, and to develop clean energy.

Even though it helped draft the accord, South Africa joined a chorus of critics, expressing disappointment at not reaching a legally binding climate change agreement.


Could it be that his oponent will be an Indian backed by China? The guesing game may just go wild from now on:

There have also been reports in India that environment minister Jairam Ramesh has nominated Indian environment secretary Vijai Sharma for the role, and his nomination is believed to be supported by China.

However, an Indian or Chinese nomination is likely to be opposed by the US and EU, which remain angry at both country’s negotiating tactics during the final days of the Copenhagen Summit.

As such, Van Schalkwyk is likely to be regarded as a potential conciliatory candidate, securing the support of the many Africa countries that will be most directly affected by climate change and providing a potential link between the US and Europe and the so-called BASIC group of emerging economies, of which South Africa is a member alongside Brazil, India and China.

His nomination chances will be further bolstered by the likelihood that South Africa will host next year’s main UN climate change summit where diplomats still hope an international treaty agreed later this year in Mexico can be formally adopted.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a comment for this article