Mary Robinson establishes a new Foundation in Ireland

Ensuring human rights are at the heart of the climate change agenda

Mary Robinson is returning to live and work in Ireland at the end of 2010. She has established the Mary Robinson Foundation, a non-profit company limited by guarantee with charitable status under Irish law. The Foundation is governed by a Board of Trustees and has a distinguished International Advisory Council to help guide its development.

The Foundation will be located in Dublin within the Innovation Alliance of the Universities established by Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and University College Dublin (UCD). Both Universities have nominated two representatives to sit on the Board of Trustees of the Foundation.

The Foundation will focus its initial activities primarily on climate justice so the business name Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice is being used. It will work to foster Irish and international leadership on issues of climate change and sustainable development and promote climate justice and equity.

The Foundation will be a centre for thought leadership, advocacy and education on one of the major challenges of the 21st Century: how to ensure the sustainable development of the poorest countries despite the negative impacts of climate change, which are caused or aggravated by the greenhouse gas emissions of industrialized countries, and emerging economies, as they develop.

In announcing the establishment Mary Robinson said:

“To effectively address climate change, we need the participation of all people everywhere with fair, accountable, transparent, and corruption-free procedures and innovative approaches to green technologies. There is a need to create awareness, through leadership and education, that the dynamics of development and of relations between peoples in different parts of the world must change profoundly. Ireland is well placed to play a leadership role in this area.”

The Foundation will be funded by private donations and has secured support from philanthropic organisations including the Rockefeller, Nduna and Skoll Foundations in the USA, the One Foundation in Ireland and Virgin Unite.

Mary Robinson will work with the Foundation on a pro-bono basis, as will her former Special Adviser Bride Rosney who will be the Foundation’s Acting CEO. Bride Rosney was Director of Communications with RTÉ from 2002 to her retirement in 2009.

Dr. Tara Shine will join the Foundation as Head of Research and Development in January 2011. She has worked as a technical adviser on environment, development and climate change issues for over 12 years. Much of her work has been carried out in developing countries resulting in an acute understanding of the issues and challenges faced by governments, research organisations and the non-governmental sectors in combating poverty, environmental degradation and climate change.

Dr Shine is a member of the Consultative Group of Experts (CGE) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The CGE provides support and advice to Non-Annex 1 (developing) countries to assist them in preparing their national communications on climate change. She has been a member of the Irish Delegation to the UNFCCC since 2003 and has negotiated on behalf of the EU. She is a member of the EU Expert Group on Adaptation which feeds into the UNFCCC process, and the Irish Impacts and Adaptation Steering Group which advises on research and policy in the area of adaptation to climate change.

The Foundation is working on its first project – focussing on the development of Women’s Leadership and Climate Justice leading to COP 16 in Cancun, Mexico at the end of 2010. Cancun follows on from COP 15 in Copenhagen and COP 17 in South Africa will in turn follow it in 2011. As part of this project the Foundation will co-host a meeting on Women’s Leadership and Climate Justice in New York later this week. This is indicative of how the Foundation will work, as a Foundation located in Ireland, to have impact worldwide, particularly in the poorest of the poor regions.