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Thompson tipped for senior UN post


rhondathompson, [email protected]

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Former Minister of Energy and Environment, Senator Liz Thompson, is in line to become a senior United Nations official at the level of assistant secretary-general.Thompson, who heads the Opposition Barbados Labour Party delegation in the upper chamber and served longer than anyone else as the island’s environment minister, is tipped to be made executive coordinator of the Rio +20 conference on sustainable development. If chosen, she would be responsible for countries in the South, meaning developing countries worldwide, according to highly placed sources at the UN in New York, and would become the highest placed Barbadian at the UN.“We expect she would be appointed soon as an assistant secretary-general, and such an appointment is at the sole discretion of the Secretary-General (Ban Ki-Moon) himself,” said a senior Caribbean UN diplomat in New York who requested anonymity.“The Secretary-General has been extremely busy with preparations for next month’s special UN General Assembly session devoted to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), hence the delay in making the announcement about the key position. Two coordinators“She is one of two executive coordinators identified by the UN to head the secretariat of the Rio+ 20 conference in Brazil in 2012 and both are expected to be officially appointed by the middle of next month.”The other executive coordinator is expected to be Brice LaLond, a former minister of the environment of France, who is now his country’s ambassador for climate change. He will be responsible for the world’s rich countries.“The UN decided to have two executive coordinators, one for the developed nations and another for developing countries, and that’s where Senator Thompson comes in,” said the ambassador.“She was recommended for the position because of her understanding of the global issues and her outstanding performance during the selection process to fill the position of executive secretary of the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), a job she didn’t get. Earlier this year, Thompson was on the short-list of candidates for the climate change position and she did extremely well during the interviews. That’s why it was decided to recommend her for the Rio +20 position, which by the way, is at the same level of the UNFCC.”The Rio Conference is to be a major item on the UN’s development agenda for the next two years and it will deal with a host of issues, ranging from climate change, economic and social affairs, the global economic crisis, fossil fuels, and the broad range of global development questions to overseas development assistance to poor states.Based in New YorkShould she be appointed, Thompson would be based in New York and would therefore have to give up her seat in the Senate. She would report directly to Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for the Rio conference.Reached in Barbados, the former minister declined to comment on any aspect of the report.An attorney for almost 25 years, Thompson received the UN’s top environmental prize, Champion Of The Earth Award in 2008. Literate in French and Spanish, Thompson holds master’s degrees in law and business administration from universities in the United Kingdom, as well as a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of the West Indies.She served in the Barbados House of Assembly for 14 years, between 1994 and 2008.Dr Chris Hackett, until recently Barbados’ UN Ambassador, said in May that Thompson was a “good candidate” for the UNFCC position and described her as “someone who has had lots of experience at the political level working in areas of climate change and sustainable development”. (TB)

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