By: Mark Leon Goldberg on May 17, 2010 Reuters is reporting that Ban Ki Moon will nominate veteran Costa Rican diplomat Christiana Figueres as executive director of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The outgoing chief, Yvo de Boer, announced his retirement a few months ago, setting off an international race to become the next top climate diplomat. Here’s what I wrote of that race at the time: India was the first out of the gate by nominating Environment Secretary Vijai Sharma. India claims its pick is backed by China and Brazil. That’s significant because those three countries make up 3/4ths of the so-called BASIC group, an important negotiating bloc in climate change debates. However, the fourth BASIC country — South Africa — has put forward its own nominee, former environment minister Marthinus Van Schalkwyk. Costa Rica may have eyed this split in BASIC when it nominated its top climate negotiator Christiana Figueres earlier this week. So these are the three currently in the running for the spot. According to a close observer of international climate negotiations who is not affiliated with the United Nations, “The front runners…the two most talked about are most definitely van Shalkwyk and Figueres. They both have a lot of experience in the negotiations [and] respect from parties.” Figureres will take over in July. And she’ll have to hit the ground running.