• Opinion by Felix Dodds, Chris Spence (apex, north carolina / dublin, eire)
  • Inter Press Service
  • With present UN Secretary-Basic António Guterres set to step down in 2026, who’s within the working to switch him? On this seven-part collection, Felix Dodds and Chris Spence reveal who is perhaps within the working and assess their possibilities.

    The potential candidates embody Amina J. Mohammed (Nigeria), Mia Motley (Barbados), Alicia Barcena (Mexico), Maria Fernanda Espinosa (Ecuador), Rebeca Grynspan (Costa Rica) and Michelle Bachelet (Chile). These are names which have come up in conversations with UN insiders and different specialists. All six would supply abilities and experiences we consider could be precious in these fast-paced, unsure occasions.

The 15-member Safety Council—which incorporates 5 veto-wielding everlasting members, particularly the US, UK, France, China and Russia—performs a decisive function within the election of a UN Secretary-Basic. Credit score: United Nations

“The struggling we see round us is a reminder of what’s at stake after we lose sight of the long run, after we depart individuals behind and we lose the power to place ourselves in others’ sneakers. What we’re seeing is a preview of what the world could possibly be in 2030, if the Sustainable Growth Targets fail.”

Grynspan was appointed as the brand new head of UNCTAD—and its first feminine chief—in 2021. Earlier than this, she had been Secretary-Basic of the Ibero-American Summits from 2014-2021, and a deputy head on the UN Growth Programme (UNDP) from 2010-2014.

She has additionally held different UN roles relationship again a decade additional. These embody serving as a subregional director of the Financial Fee for Latin American and the Caribbean (ECLAC), and as UNDP’s regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

However her experience additionally crosses into authorities.

Through the Nineties she held a number of high-profile roles in her native Costa Rica, together with serving as Vice President from 1994-1998. She additionally held the housing, economics, and social affairs portfolios at numerous phases of her profession, and was a Vice Minister of Finance within the late Eighties.

Grynspan has additionally been on numerous boards and high-level panels through the years, dealing both with monetary issues, human growth, or each. As an example, she chaired the board of the Worldwide Institute for Surroundings and Growth (IIED), served as a delegate to the UN Fee for the Reconstruction of Haiti, and extra just lately was on the G20 Excessive Degree Impartial Panel (HLIP) on Financing the International Commons for Pandemic Preparedness and Response.

She has additionally served on boards tackling points resembling diet and meals coverage, and ladies’s political management. She can also be coordinator of the Job Crew of the International Disaster Response Group on Meals, Vitality and Finance arrange by the UN Secretary-Basic to assist help nations face the financial shocks associated to the struggle in Ukraine.

May Grynspan’s breadth of expertise, and her deep background in finance and economics, be considered as an asset at a time when financing on the whole, and significantly help for the International South, are broadly seen as insufficient?

For instance, the shortfall in funding for the Sustainable Growth Targets within the South is now estimated at $4 trillion. How can we flip this round? Grynspan’s skilled expertise, together with negotiating the debt of her nation with the IMF, and her intensive coaching as an economist (she holds economics levels from universities in Costa Rica and the UK) could possibly be considered as well timed and precious on this regard.

Assessing Grynspan’s Prospects

May economist Rebeca Grynspan turn into the subsequent UN Secretary-Basic? Right here is our evaluation of her benefits and downsides ought to she select to enter her identify into the competition.


  • Seniority: Grynspan could not have been a president or prime minister, however as Vice President of Costa Rica she climbed near the summit of her nation’s political mountain. Though it’s unclear whether or not the present Secretary-Basic’s standing as a former prime minister will likely be a one-off occasion or the beginning of a development, Grynspan’s seniority in her native Costa is unlikely to hurt her candidature, ought to she select to use, and would probably assist it.
  • UN Expertise: As the primary feminine Secretary-Basic of UNCTAD, Grynspan has already damaged one glass ceiling inside the United Nations. She would additionally convey greater than twenty years’ expertise inside the UN system, one thing that will absolutely be considered as an asset throughout these unsure occasions. Moreover, she is aware of the interior workings of the UN in Geneva, New York and throughout Latin America, giving her insights into resolution making at each headquarters and regionally. This breadth of expertise inside the UN could possibly be helpful to any future UN chief.
  • Confirmed Impression: Grynspan is considered as somebody who can have an effect, a notion acknowledged by Forbes journal, which named her among the many 100 strongest ladies in Central America 4 years working. She was additionally instrumental within the UN-brokered Black Sea Initiative agreed by Russia, Türkiye, and Ukraine that has allowed thousands and thousands of tons of grain and different foodstuffs to depart Ukraine’s ports, taking part in an necessary function in world meals safety.
  • Connections: Grynspan has had a few years working within the regional degree and on the world degree, too. Her networks could arguably not be as broad as another candidates, however would nonetheless present a very good platform for her to succeed.
  • A Lady Chief: As with our different candidates, Grynspan affords the possibility to interrupt the glass ceiling and turn into the primary feminine chief of the UN.


  • Local weather and the Surroundings: Though Grynspan has robust credentials on commerce, finance and growth, it is just just lately that she started to have the next profile on local weather change and among the different massive environmental problems with our time. As an example, she just lately co-hosted the primary ever Commerce Day occasion at COP28, and has turn into a powerful advocate for reform of the monetary and debt structure to permit growing nations the fiscal house to spend money on carbon mitigation and adaptation. May her comparatively current involvement on this key concern rely in opposition to her, or will it reasonably be seen as including to her spectacular credentials in different areas?
  • Peace and Safety: Peace, safety and battle decision haven’t featured prominently in her background. Nonetheless, as with local weather change, they’re usually front-and-center of worldwide information. If the UN Safety Council members are on the lookout for experience on this space, would possibly Grynspan’s relative lack of expertise be thought of a potential weak spot? Or, would they think about her current function within the Black Sea Initiative as current proof of her engagement on this space?
  • Title Recognition: Though she is broadly revered in her fields and throughout the UN, Grynspan could not have the identical form of identify recognition among the many public as among the different candidates.

Prof. Felix Dodds and Chris Spence have participated in United Nations conferences and negotiations for the reason that Nineties. They co-edited Heroes of Environmental Diplomacy: Profiles in Braveness (Routledge, 2022), which examines the roles of people in inspiring change.

Earlier components:


IPS UN Bureau

© Inter Press Service (2024) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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