Ms Figueres was vice-President of the Conference of the Parties to the convention from 2008-9. She has also been a member of the Costa Rican climate negotiations team since 1995, and represented Latin America on the Executive Board of the Clean Development Mechanism, overseeing UN international offsets, since 2007.
She has extensive experience in Costa Rican government and research institutes covering sustainable development, agriculture and renewable energy.
The move should strengthen the hand of the more pragmatic developing countries looking to develop new and existing offsets, including forest schemes under REDD.
Accepting the post, she stressed her two immediate priorities would be “to work with the Secretary General to strengthen trust in the process, and to support the Danish and Mexican COP Presidencies as well as all other Parties in the preparation of a successful COP16 in Cancun”.
Ms Figueres will replace Dutchman Yvo de Boer, who presided over the fraught negotiations leading up to the ill-fated December 2009 Copenhagen conference.
She is likely to take up office later this year.