(Source GEF Press Release June 2, 2020) Costa Rican Environment and Energy Minister Carlos Manuel Rodriguez has been selected as the next CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility, the largest multilateral trust fund supporting environmental action in developing countries and the main financing mechanism for multiple United Nations environmental conventions. This is a very influential post because since its inception the GEF has provided more than $20.5 billion in grants and mobilized an additional $112 billion in co-financing for more than 4,800 environmental development projects in 170 countries. Through its Small Grants Programme, the GEF has provided support to more than 24,000 civil society and community initiatives in 133 countries.

Rodriguez, describing himself as a “lawyer by profession, politician by choice, and conservationist at heart,” will be the first national from Latin America to lead the GEF when he takes office this August. He joins the Washington-based intergovernmental organization at a crucial time for international environmental action, in the midst of the zoonotic coronavirus pandemic that has raised the urgency of addressing illegal wildlife trading and ahead of high-stakes negotiations next year regarding climate change, biodiversity, oceans, and more!

Rodriguez, considered a great ‘fit’ for the post, has formerly served three terms as Minister of Environment and Energy in Costa Rica, during this tenure it doubled the size of its forests, made its power sector 100 percent renewable, and became a top ecotourism destination. Rodriguez, also worked for 12 years at Conservation International NGO, and has been a pioneer in the development of payment for ecosystem services, ocean conservation, and de-carbonization strategies, and is a world-renowned expert on environmental policies, multilateral negotiations, and financing for nature conservation.

The GEF Council, meeting virtually, selected Rodriguez today as the trust fund’s next CEO for an initial term of four years. He will succeed Naoko Ishii, who became the GEF’s CEO and Chairperson in 2012 and served two terms marked by an expansion of the trust fund’s approach to better address environmental degradation at its root causes, including a greater focus on transformation of key economic systems that are driving climate change, deforestation, and ecological damage.

“I feel thrilled and honored to be selected as the new CEO and Chairperson by the members of this great partnership,” Rodriguez said. “Under Naoko Ishii’s leadership the GEF grew in its vision, focus, and ambition. Her legacy needs to be continued and scaled further in this moment when the planet is at a crossroads between business-as-usual and green economic recovery plans centered in nature in the aftermath of COVID-19. I will work tirelessly with the membership and stakeholders to make the GEF a global agent of change.”