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Keynote Speaker Christiana Figueres

Christiana Figueres: Top UN Authority on Global Climate Change & Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC


Christiana Figueres - 2015 Global Thinker, number 7 of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders in Fortune Magazine

Book your keynote speaker Christiana Figueres


Christiana Figueres’  career


Christiana Figueres is the prime UN authority on global climate change. She has worked as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) since July 2010.


2016 – present Convenor at Mission 2020

2010 – 2016 Executive Secretary at UNFCCC; Bonn – Germany


She’s served a long time in the field of global climate change, has been a member of the Costa Rican bargaining team 1995- 2009, and has operated many significant roles in the governance of the UNFCCC before she formally entered the secretariat.


She began her career of public service as Minister Counselor at the Embassy of Costa Rica in Bonn, Germany in 1982. Relocating to the USA, she was Director of Renewable Energy in the Americas (REIA) and in 1995 founded the non-profit Center for Sustainable Development of the Americas (CSDA) which she supervised for eight years.


Considering responsibility for the global climate change negotiations after the disappointing Copenhagen conference of 2009, she was prepared to lead the process to a universally accepted regulatory structure. Building toward that aim, she governed the successful Conferences of the Parties in Cancun – in the year 2010, Durban 2011, Doha 2012, Warsaw 2013, and Lima 2014, before finishing in the historical Paris Agreement of 2015.


Her Mission

Throughout her service, Ms. Figueres brought together national and sub-national governments, enterprises and activists, financial institutions and communities of faith. But not only those. She connected think tanks and technology providers, NGOs and parliamentarians, and she did so to address the unprecedented climate change agreement jointly. For this action, Ms. Figueres has been recognized with shaping a new brand of collaborative diplomacy.


Christiana Figueres’ awards


Ms. Figueres was given the Great Cross of the Order of Merit of Germany in 1985. More recently she has been internationally acknowledged for her six-year effort to build the necessary collaborations to deliver a global legally binding agreement that had beforehand seemed impossible.


Years 2015 – 2016
  • She was decorated as Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau, of The Netherlands.
  • She also obtained the Legion of Honor of France, the Grand Medal of the City of Paris, and the National Guayacan Medal from Costa Rica.
  • She got the Ewald von Kleist Award from the Munich Security Conference, then the Medal of Honour from The Guardian in 2015.
  • In the same year, she also was nominated Hero of El Pais newspaper of Spain.
  • The next year Christiana earned the 2016 Solar Champion Award from California’s Vote Solar and the  Power with Purpose 2016 Award from Devex and McKinsey.
  • Next, she got the 2016 Joan Bavaria Award from CERES.
  • The Nature Journal of Science placed her first on the list of 2015 Top 10.
  • Foreign Policy Magazine acknowledged her as the 2015 Global Thinker, and in 2016 Fortune magazine posted her number seven of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders, which only female Latin American can be registered.
  • Time magazine included Christiana in the top 100 instrumental leaders of the world.
  • In nature, a newly discovered tropical moth (Struthoscelis christianafigueresae – soon to be declared) and a wasp (Pseudapanteles christianafigueresae)  have been called after her.




Ms. Figueres has a Masters Degree in Anthropology from the London School of Economics, and a certificate in Organizational Development from Georgetown University. Christiana received an honorary doctorate of law degrees from the University of Massachusetts Boston in the year 2014 and Concordia University in 2015 and an honorary degree from Georgetown University in 2016.


Her languages are Spanish, English, and German. She was born in San José, Costa Rica, in 1956 and has two daughters.




“I don’t want to put people into a black box and say, ‘You’re the culprits,’ and point a blaming finger. It just helps absolutely nothing. Call it my anthropological training.” — quoted in the New Yorker, August 24, 2015


Figueres’ Ted Talks


10 years of changing views on climate change, in TED Talks – July 27, 2006

Impossible isn’t a fact; it’s an attitude: Christiana Figueres at TED2016

Latest videos and talks by Christiana Figueres


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