Climate Justice advocate Mary Robinson

– Climate policies need to be people centered and respect human rights

Published June 13, 2016

Climate justice advocate Mary Robinson called today for climate policies that are people centred and respect human rights, to avoid unintended consequences.

Speaking at the Stockholm EAT Food Forum, the former president of Ireland and UN High commissioner for Human Rights, warned that there are already unintended consequences to many climate policies, such as biofuel production driving up food prices, hitting the poor hardest. She praised the way the EAT initiative has developed an interdisciplinary scientific knowledge platform.

“I like breaking down silos,” Robinson said. “We need a broad movement for sustainable development guided by climate justice.”

Robinson recalls the emotional reaction to the Paris climate agreement in December 2015, “There was such an outpouring of tears, hugs and a sense that for once the most vulnerable had been listened to. The world needs a shift away from the 5 main sources of greenhouse gas emissions: dirty energy, dirty transportation, unsustainable agriculture, deforestation and poor waste management.”

Mary Robinson has been a passionate advocate of human rights and justice for most of her career and is now devoting herself to climate justice. After leaving the UN in 2002, Robinson formed Realizing Rights: the Ethical Globalization Initiative, which came to a planned end in 2010.

«We need a broad movement for sustainable development guided by climate justice.» Mary Robinson

Robinson then set up The Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice. The foundation aims to be a centre for thought leadership, education and advocacy on the struggle to secure global justice for the many forgotten victims of climate change: the poor, the disempowered and the marginalised across the world.

Climate justice focuses on the responsibility of developed nations to support less developed countries experiencing the worst effects of climate change, such as floods, cyclones and famines. Climate justice is, according to Robinson, about helping millions of people who stand to lose everything they have.

In her former role as UN Special Envoy for Climate Change Robinson heard the pleas from developing countries for more action.  She emphasises the role of climate financing – a process in which rich countries fund low-emissions development in poor countries.

The climate financing is not a form of aid, but the means by which we secure a safe world for all our children and grandchildren, she argues.

In a call for solidarity, Robinson has previously compared the world to the sinking Titanic:

“When the ship hit the iceberg, it wasn’t just those in steerage that went down, it was the first-class as well. There is a real sense of interdependence and a need for human solidarity to realise that we are all in this together.”