Equity, Fairness and Respecting Human Rights Vital for Just Transition to a Sustainable World

Mary Robinson Engages One Young World Ambassadors in Debate on Climate Justice

She was introduced by One Young World Ambassador Marielle Fillit, who, along with fellow OYW Ambassador Kevin Musila started up a business providing solar power in Kenya last year.

Starting her speech, Mary Robinson reminded the present OYW Ambassadors that climate change is not just an issue of atmospheric science, but also an issue of human rights. Anxious to engage the young leaders in the room on climate justice, Mary Robinson opened the session to the audience to discuss and learn from OYW Ambassadors on this matter.

Her statement on the shameful situation of 1.3 Billion not having access to energy sparked a lively discussion about a sustainable future for the planet and what a “just transition” to a sustainable world should look like. The debate between among Mary Robinson and the OYW Ambassadors focused on the possibility of lifting people out of poverty by giving them access to affordable and renewable energy sources.

Responding to questions from the floor on energy access, technology and innovation, Mary Robinson spoke about the challenges of phasing out of fossil fuels while protecting the right to development. She said:

“It is very important that we phase out carbon fairly as we move towards a sustainable world. We need to get to zero carbon by 2050, but we need to do this in a fair and equitable way. We cannot leave anyone behind.”

As the Ambassadors asked about how to catalyse action towards a fair climate agreement in Paris in 2015, Robinson urged the young leaders of the future to show ambitious and transformative leadership and to hold their governments to account.

“We need brave young leaders that look past the next elections and towards a sustainable future. You must persuade your governments that they have to be part of a future that is better for people and planet”.

Addressing the young people from a variety of diverse backgrounds and sectors present at the Summit, Mary Robinson reminded the Ambassadors that climate change was one of the biggest challenges of our time and that, if not dealt with appropriately now, “we won’t have world to do business in”.

Mary Robinson closed the session by encouraging the young people to embrace the concept of climate justice and to use the opportunity at the OYW summit to work with each other to build momentum towards a fair and sustainable world.

Following the discussion, Marielle Fillit launched the One Young World Prize for Climate Justice. A prize of €10,000 will be awarded to an Ambassador for achieving a Climate Justice project in their country. The winner will be announced at the 2015 Summit in Bangkok, Thailand. More information will be available shortly at http://www.oneyoungworld.com/.

Related Links

One Young World Summit – Watch the Live Stream

RTE Morning Ireland: Interview with Mary Robinson about One Young World Summit (16 October 2014)

Resoltion passed on Climate Change and Human Rights 

Meeting the energy needs of the poorest – a role for social protection 

Climate Justice Dialouge Videos – What is a Climate Justice Narrative?