Argentina’s Celeste Saulo was appointed to head the U.N. weather agency on Thursday, a World Meteorological Organization (WMO) spokesperson said, beating three other candidates, including one from China.
The WMO plays a key role in monitoring climate change and helps its 193 member states and territories meet their global commitments in the areas of disaster risk reduction.
“In these times when inequality and climate change are the greatest global threats, the WMO must contribute to strengthening the Meteorological and Hydrological Services to protect populations and their economies, providing timely and effective services and early warning systems,” Saulo said.
Saulo, an expert in monsoon systems, is vice president of the Geneva-based organisation and director of Argentina’s meteorological service. She will be the first female Secretary-General of the 73-year old organisation when she takes over from Finland’s Petteri Taalas in Jan. 2024.
Saulo obtained the required two-thirds majority from countries in the first round of voting, the WMO spokesperson said.
Diplomats said there was heavy campaigning in recent weeks in what they described as a two-horse race between Saulo and her Chinese opponent Zhang Wenjian who is now Assistant Secretary-General. Other contenders included Swiss-Russian candidate Elena Manaenkova and Curacao’s Albert Martis.