UN climate change official Joke Waller-Hunter dies at 58
A national of the Netherlands, Ms. Waller-Hunter will be remembered for her intelligent grasp of the issues for which she passionately worked and her down-to-earth, straightforward personality, according to officials who worked with her.
In a collective statement, they said she "approached her work with a sincere commitment, believing deeply in the importance of the principles of the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol, the landmark agreements on limiting greenhouse gas emissions responsible for man-made global warming."
In New York, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today mourned her passing and paid tribute to her legacy.
"The Secretary-General was deeply saddened to learn of the death of his friend and colleague," a UN spokesman said, adding that she led the UNFCCC at a "crucial" time.
"She was a firm believer in the principles of sustainable development, and knew that global cooperation was essential to advancing that cause," said spokesman Stephane Dujarric. "She will be mourned with deep affection and respect by many friends and allies around the world."
Appointed Executive Secretary in 2002, the Dutch official oversaw the entry into force of the treaty's legally binding Kyoto Protocol and played a leading role in preparations for its implementation, particularly on adaptation to the impact of climate change.
Before joining the UNFCCC, she served for four years as the Director of the Environment Directorate of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris.
Prior to that, she was the UN's first Director for Sustainable Development, coordinating the world body's work in that area.
She began her professional career in service to the Government of the Netherlands, holding numerous posts, including Deputy Director for International Environmental Affairs. In that capacity she was actively involved in the preparations of the 1992 UN Conference in Environment and Development, where the climate change treaty was first adopted.