Toespraak minister Schultz van Haegen tijdens het uitreiken van een lintje aan Christiana Figueres

Toespraak van minister Schultz van Haegen (IenM) tijdens het uitreiken van een lintje aan Christiana Figueres op 10 mei 2016 in Rotterdam. De toespraak is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Dear Christiana,

From time to time, anyone active in politics or global affairs has to deal with important personal questions. Questions like: how far am I willing to go for my ideals? Do I want to be in the spotlight or would I rather work behind the scenes? These questions are very personal and it is important to consider them now and again.

You come from a very politically active family, so I’m sure you are familiar with these questions. In tackling climate change you have embraced one of the most important issues of our time.

Over the past 7 years, you have worked tirelessly towards a global climate agreement – both on the world stage and behind the scenes. You were 1 of the first to realize that a global agreement on climate would only be possible if parties would be able to reach a balanced and fair deal. After the disappointment of Copenhagen, you helped change the way climate negotiations were conducted – by focusing on cooperation, rather than negotiation.

Your unflagging efforts and encouragement created a new atmosphere. Parties slowly moved away from their usual positions. They focused less on their own wish lists. Instead, they started to reach out and ask what other parties needed to close the deal.

In doing so, you helped create the Paris summit into a global display of trust. Not only between countries, but also between the public and private sectors.

You also used the issue of climate change to focus on emancipation – by strengthening and embracing the role of women in creating a better world. And you helped the world to broaden its scope and look towards climate adaptation as well.

Your leadership has been inspiring. You are not afraid to say what needs saying. But you always remain committed to uniting all parties involved. You are dedicated, humble and focused on practical cooperation.


My negotiators told me about the many motivating speeches you gave in Bonn during the sessions, in New York during the climate summits, and everywhere else in between. And, of course, in Paris itself.

The fact that you were able to engage audiences with your great sense of humour certainly helped as well.

You are now nearing the end of your term as Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Today, we will focus on an issue that is close to my heart: climate adaptation – the need to prevent disasters caused by flooding, drought and water pollution.

The Netherlands is eager help create a more resilient world. We want to share the knowledge we’ve gained from centuries of living with and managing water. And in return, we have a lot to gain from global solutions. That’s why the Paris Agreement is so important to us.

And today in particular, we want to thank you for the vital role you played in delivering it. You have shown great strength of character and a tireless determination to build a world of opportunity and development for all.

I am therefore delighted and privileged to inform you that it has pleased His Majesty the King to appoint you an Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau. If you would like to step forward, I shall present you with the insignia of the Order.