(Disclaimer: This commentary is offered in my personal, individual capacity. It expresses the views of I and I).
Ah does always say that the New National Party cyah do nothing that go surprise me but from time to time, ah does still get surprise!! So when “the news bust” that former Senator/Minister of Climate Resilience and the Environment, Simon Stiell was tipped to be the next UN “Climate Chief”, ah was dumbfounded!! Whaaaat!!??
We the people know that our former Minister excelled at “blah blah”! But we the people can testify that translating commitment into real action on the ground was “a horse of a different colour” and in general, the action on the ground conflicted with the commitment and the common sense basics of mitigation and building climate resilience. Examples abound!
Senator Stiell’s application had to have been endorsed by the Government of Grenada. When and how did this application and selection take place? Parliament was dissolved on May 16th and general elections took place on June 23rd, ushering in a change of administration. To date, I have not heard any official statements from Grenada. Who knows about this? What was the role of the climate change cabal that claims to work in the name of Grenada. From whom do they take instructions? To whom do they report?
- Invitation to Apply:
The ad – Apply for the Executive Secretary Position at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – advised:-
- “The Secretariat welcomes applications to supplement the Secretary-General’s search and consultations and would especially welcome the application of women candidates………
- The Executive Secretary of UNFCCC is a member of the Secretary-General’s Senior Management Group and serves as a role model for the United Nations Values (Inclusion, Integrity, Humility and Humanity) and Behaviours Framework (Connect and Collaborate; Analyse and Plan; Deliver Results with Positive Impact; Learn and Develop; Adapt and Innovate) and the desired behaviours of the United Nations System Leadership Framework.”
An article which treated with the question – Who is best suited to lead the world into delivering critical emission cuts this decade? – made the following comments/observations that I consider quite informative in assessing the selection of the former Minister: –
- The timing the posting of the on the UN website left “just over a month for governments to put their candidates forward before the 24 June deadline.”
- Applicants will need to demonstrate senior leadership experience, “strategic vision and an intimate understanding” of climate and development issues. Ministerial experience would be a plus.
- The job was based at the UN Climate Change headquarters in Bonn, Germany, and the salary is $207,000, according to the latest UN pay grid.
- There was a push for “African and Asian candidates to be given a chance” given that previous executive secretaries were from Europe and Latin America.
- Female applicants were “especially welcome”.
- Capitals will lobby…. but ultimately, the decision lies with the UN Secretary General.
- The article profiled nine individuals it considered potential contenders for the position – seven women who all had ministerial experience – six from the Africa-Asia regions; one from Canada; – and one man from Barbados.
- In respect of this potential male contender identified by the article, further comments were noted:-
- Ministerial Experience: The gentleman has no experience in a ministerial role and sources had advised that the lack of this experience will play against him.
- Latin American and the Caribbean: The last two persons holding the position of Executive Secretary of UNFCC have come from the group of Latin America and Caribbean countries.
- Proximity to the UN Secretary-General: But his proximity to Secretary-General Guterres will give him a shot.
- Expectations re Successful Candidate
The article also offered the following comments re expectations in respect of the successful candidate:-
- will need to steer international climate efforts through a critical decade of action for meeting global climate goals;
- “need to start building a new architecture of accountability,” …..;
- Managing the transition from focusing on negotiations to implementation will be essential; veteran climate advisor, Kaveh Guilanpour, observed, “That is a huge organisational challenge. Ideally you will need someone with direct experience of delivery beyond the world of diplomacy.”
An announcement of August 15th, by the office UN Secretary-General confirmed that our former Senator/Minister of Environment had indeed been appointed as the Executive Secretary of the UNFCC. The appointment was made by the UN Secretary-General after consultation with the Conference of Parties through its Bureau. The announcement described Mr. Stiell as “a true champion for formulating creative approaches for our collective global response to the climate crisis, brings to the position a unique skillset developed over a thirty-three year career, coupled with vast experience in bilateral, regional and multilateral affairs”. The announcement noted the following re Mr. Stiell:-
- senior minister in the Government of Grenada from 2013 through June 2022, holding the portfolio of Minister for Climate Resilience and the Environment for five years…….;
- some fourteen years within the technology sector holding senior executive positions in a number of industry leading companies, from Silicon Valley based technology start-ups to major corporations, including Nokia and GEC Plessey Telecommunications;
- originally trained as an engineer at London Metropolitan University and College of North West London, holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Westminster in the United Kingdom.
Mr. Stiell was selected from among three male applicants, the others being the COP26 President Alok Sharma of the UK and India’s Ovais Sarmad, current Deputy to the departing Executive Secretary the UNFCC Secretariat.
- Observations re Grenada’s/Former Minister’s Track Record
The former Senator/Minister of Environment will be the third consecutive candidate from the Latin America Region, notwithstanding that invitation to apply specifically appealed to women and there was a push for persons from Africa-Asia? Was St. George’s successful in its lobbying? Did it have close ties with the Secretary-General, with persons within the Bureau or did it have close ties with people/capitals which have close ties with the centres of power?
We the people are neither impressed nor inspired. Since 2013, the former Senator/Minister had Environment as his principal portfolio. How did the tenure of the former Senator/his Ministry/Government of Grenada over the period 2013-2022 demonstrate any of the values that will “serve as a role model for the United Nations Values (Inclusion, Integrity, Humility and Humanity) and Behaviours Framework (Connect and Collaborate; Analyse and Plan; Deliver Results with Positive Impact; Learn and Develop; Adapt and Innovate)”.
- Disconnect between Policy and Practice
Mr. Stiell’s tenure as Minister of Environment was characterized by a DISCONNECT between what was articulated at the policy level and what actually happened on the ground. The primary concern appears to be mobilizing large pots of resources, including significant loans while endorsing ill-advised decisions – oblivious to commitments and fundamental common sense (e.g. ensuring rigorous Environmental Impact Assessment and compliance with mitigation measures proposed among other things; protecting mangroves) – resulting in the destruction/loss of a number of natural assets and, in many cases, increasing the climate risks of the country. Examples abound in the name of “development”. It was incomprehensible, unless the ill-advised decisions were part of some kind of strategy to increase vulnerability and risks, thus making a case for more money for insurance and infrastructural works.
The hotel developments on Grand Anse Beach – Silver Sands Resort and the stalled Kimpton Kawana – are such examples. There is the loss of protective wetlands and its biodiversity and loss of beach. How can policymakers/decision makers, supposedly championing climate resilience on the international stage, support infrastructural development such as the St. Patrick’s Breakwater to be undertaken in the name of disaster risk reduction without an Environmental Impact Assessment? Note the following link, https://www.nowgrenada.com/2018/01/is-the-breakwater-project-causing-more-harm-than-good/.
Another glaring example is the destruction of mangrove and drainage of the La Sagesse Salt Pond by hotel developers. Reference the news story Resort developers deforest mangrove in Grenada’s third most diverse birding site at the following link – https://www.nowgrenada.com/2020/03/resort-developers-deforest-mangrove-in-grenadas-third-most-diverse-birding-site/
- Public Consultations/Transparency/Environmental Impact Assessment/Mitigation Measures
It is also of great concern that an absence of transparency prevailed in respect of “developments”. Public consultations were not practiced and, notwithstanding that Grenada is party to the Escazu Agreement , the right to information was denied. Requests for reports re Environmental Impact Assessments were denied.
- Ministry of Climate Resilience, Environment, Forestry and Fisheries
The establishment of the Ministry of Climate Resilience appeared to be part of a strategy of the Public Sector Management Strategy (2017) to among other things :- re-engineer the Public Services to strengthen the machinery of Government towards greater effectiveness and efficiencies; deploy and utilize human resources in the most optimal manner….” . The Dept. of Environment has never been adequately staffed. It also did not have any “legislative teeth” since the Bill and revised Bill have remained in draft for the last ten or more years.
- Blue Growth Coastal Master Plan:
It is noteworthy that the World Bank lays claim to authoring this document and Sen. Stiell is named as a principal advisor. It has been described as “the national strategy” for implementing “its vision of blue growth based on a diversified economy:”. A number of concerns has been raised about this document which is being paraded as an example to be followed – the process by which it was developed, apparent technical deficiencies and exclusion re the participation of local technical persons and broad based stakeholder groups representing diverse interests. The physical mega-projects being promoted on the coastal areas are astounding and are in direct conflict with the coastal zone policy and climate resilience basics.
- Fur Cups
We the people note the expectations re the “new climate chief”:- focus on implementation – ideally someone with direct experience of delivery beyond the world of diplomacy” ; “building the architecture of accountability”. Time will tell! Is he now an international public servant? Will he have to “step -up” compared to that performance as a Minister? Notwithstanding our bewilderment, we the people hold him no ill-will and extend our best wishes to “new climate chief”. It also seems appropriate to award the deserving performance of the former Senator/Minister of Environment a well-earned FUR CUP!