JOHANNESBURG: South Africa will pit its tourism minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk against Indian environment secretary Vijay Sharma for the key post of UN's climate change chief.
Sharma will face competition from van Schalkwyk as the UN seeks a replacement for Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Van Schalkwyk's nomination was approved by the South African government after President Jacob Zuma met with him at the weekend to emphasise the importance of achieving a binding climate change agreement with South Africa playing a major role in the process.
"In his portfolio as minister of affairs and tourism, (Van Schalkwyk) positioned South Africa as a true climate change champion," the Presidency said in a statement, adding that he commanded significant respect across the divide between developed and developing countries.
"This will stand him in good stead in this critical phase of driving the change negotiations to conclusion."