Mary Robinson, Chair of the Board of Trustees
Mary Robinson, the first woman President of Ireland (1990-1997), former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (1997-2002), and founder and President of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative (2002-2010), has spent most of her life as a human rights advocate. Born Mary Bourke in Ballina, County Mayo (1944), the daughter of two physicians, she was educated at the University of Dublin (Trinity College), King’s Inns Dublin and Harvard Law School to which she won a fellowship in 1967.
As an academic (Trinity College Law Faculty 1968-90), legislator (Member of the Irish Senate 1969-89) and barrister (Irish Bar 1967-90, Senior Counsel 1980; called to the English Bar 1973) she sought to use law as an instrument for social change, arguing landmark cases before the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court in Luxembourg as well as in the Irish courts. A committed European, she also served on expert European Community and Irish parliamentary committees.
In 1988 Mary Robinson and her husband founded the Irish Centre for European Law at Trinity College. Ten years later she was elected Chancellor of the University.
The recipient of numerous honours and awards throughout the world including the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama, Mary Robinson is a member of the Elders, former Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders and a member of the Club of Madrid.
She serves on several boards including the European Climate Foundation, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, and is a member of the Royal Irish Academy and the American Philosophical Society.
Mary Robinson returned to live in Ireland, following the planned end of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative, in December 2010. She now serves as President of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice. On 7 August, Mary Robinson will end her term as Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General to the Great Lakes region of Africa, a role she took up in March 2013. Mary Robinson is UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Change since July 2014.
Happening alongside the official COP20, the main opportunity for nations to negotiate reductions in carbon emissions before a definitive commitment in Paris in 2015, Development and Climate days was small in scale but big in ambition.
Climate justice requires solidarity between nations. The law can help promote change, but it is up to us all to acknowledge our responsibilities
Climate Action Outside the Negotiations Not Reflected Inside the Negotiations
Climate change adaptation, resilience and human mobility were the focus of the discussion at a side event called “Voices from the Climate Frontlines” moderated by Mary Robinson on 11 December at COP20/CMP10 in Lima.
To accelerate climate action and mark the role all actors play in combating climate change, today, 11th December, the Peruvian Government launched “Lima Climate Action Day” with a series of multi-stakeholder activities and declarations at COP20/CMP10.