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Thought Leader: Mary Robinson

Mary Robinson is UN special envoy for climate change, president of the Mary Robinson Foundation - Climate Justice, former president of Ireland, and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

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Mary Robinson on


  • WHAT’S DISTINCT distinct

    What strikes me about the world today is that it's a world of 7 billion people who are more connected than ever before, and yet the divides are huge. We see growing inequality both within countries and between countries.

  • CHALLENGES challenges

    For me the greatest human rights challenge, and therefore ethical challenge, is the injustice of the fact that weather shocks and severe climate change are affecting the poorest who are least responsible. But there is another kind of justice, and that is intergenerational justice. For the first time in human history, the activity of human beings is causing a danger to Earth itself and to the future of the human species and other species.

  • GLOBAL ETHICS ethics

    I've been fascinated for a number of years about how we can develop and strengthen a global ethic. I am particularly interested in the work of Hans Küng. I really feel that his work in drawing on the great religions of the world, we can also draw on the humanist tradition. That's what the visionaries of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights did under the chairmanship of Eleanor Roosevelt. They looked to the great religions and the humanist tradition in 1948, and they gave us an extraordinary document, this Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

  • PEACE peace

    I believe it's extraordinarily important that we continue to strive for peace. one of the things that I am interested in is the way in which women's groups now are insisting on having their voices heard—in Africa, for example—and getting countries to have plans of action to implement Security Council Resolution 1325, which requires that women are involved in peacekeeping, peacemaking, peacebuilding.

  • LEADERSHIP leadership

    The leadership that interests me most is moral leadership. It's hard, because you have to be very true to core values and have integrity and live the way you talk. None of us quite achieves that. But I've learned a lot from my fellow elders, from Archbishop Desmond Tutu and others.

  • FUTURE future

    If we don't take steps to stay below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial warming and have more focus on adapting and becoming climate-resilient and having a low-carbon future, it will be catastrophic.