Remarks by Mary Robinson and Nat O’Connor during 2011 TASC Annual Lecture
The 2011 TASC Annual Lecture was delivered on 2nd June by Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, former UN Commissioner for Human Rights and now President of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice. In his opening remarks, TASC Director Nat O’Connor said:
“The concept of climate justice is rooted in the principles of solidarity, equality and human rights. Those are also the principles upon which our work in TASC is based. We need to have solidarity with our neighbours in Ireland, who may be living on a low wage or no wage. Equally, we need to have – and to act on – solidarity with our neighbours globally whose very ability to survive is threatened by the devastating effects of climate change.”
Mary Robinson first reflected on some of the changes which have occurred in Ireland in recent years, and said:
“We need to be innovative in thinking of the policies and approaches which will make us a fairer, more equitable society. Much of this will, of course, depend on government policies. But we know from experience that our lives can be affected by the general attitude in the community around us.
“Can we revive again a conscious sense of pro-active community self-development? Can we rekindle the spirit of meitheal in practical ways that impact on the lives of those worst affected by the current crisis? Is it possible to start with education and jobs for young people?
“There are resources in every community that could be harnessed to provide mentoring, training, job experience. What about the service providers and carers who have had their budgets cut – is there an interim way to provide support from the community itself?”
Turning to her main topic, Justice for All – Even in Climate?, Ms Robinson delivered a wide-ranging lecture during which she highlighted the crucial role played by education and research in combating climate change and its effects:
“We need to equip our children and young people with the skills to live in a climate affected world. We need a new breed of urban planner who can design sustainable cities resilient to floods and agronomists with the skills needed to modify well developed farming techniques to a new set of environmental conditions.
“This is why in the Foundation we are placing an emphasis on introducing the concept of climate justice to first and second level students and to finding ways to integrate climate justice into a range of disciplines taught at third level. It also why we are mapping climate justice related research in Ireland – to better understand research which can help to inform equitable responses to climate change and to develop green technologies that enable a transition to low carbon, climate resilient development.
“In Ireland we place a strong emphasis on the importance of research in shaping our economic recovery – but there is also an opportunity for this research to shape a new development paradigm – based on equity, justice and sustainability”.
The TASC Annual Lecture takes place each year in June. Previous Lectures have been delivered by Irish Times journalist Lara Marlow, Professor James Galbraith and Professor Kathleen Lynch.
Podcast of the 2011 TASC Annual Lecture [right-click on the link and choose ‘Save Target/Link as…’]
Robinson highlights climate change challenge – Irish Times, 03 June 2011 (subscription required)