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No other keynote speaker on issues of climate justice addresses the subject with Mary Robinson’s command, experience, and gracious humanity. Her career has included roles as a celebrated politician, diplomat, and advocate for the full spectrum of human rights. Events turning on climate justice or international diplomacy turn to President Robinson for the ideal keynote address.
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Ireland’s first woman president, political speaker Mary Robinson is now a globally respected advocate for climate justice. As an unforgettable keynote speaker, Mary Robinson draws on an extraordinary legacy of statecraft to sound a message of hope. Famous in circles of power for her ability to make abstract questions relevant in personal terms, President Robinson continues that tradition when speaking on climate justice, human rights, gender equity, and corporate responsibility.
When Mary Robinson speaks, people listen. When she concludes, they applaud: President Robinson’s TED talk received a rare standing ovation. As director of the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice, she is a leading advocate for the disempowered.
Robinson rose to international prominence as the transformational president of Ireland from 1990 to 1997. In that capacity, she elevated the public role of the Irish presidency to better serve the demands of the times. After helping lead Ireland through a period of unprecedented economic growth, President Robinson turned to international matters. As the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, President Robinson transformed the office into a vehicle for public advocacy. She later served as the UN Special Envoy on Climate Change.
She currently serves on the boards of organizations ranging from the Council of Women World Leaders, which she co-founded, to the European Climate Foundation. President Robinson chairs The Elders, an independent group of global leaders formed by Nelson Mandela to address critical international problems. Her book, Climate Justice, received universal acclaim by world leaders and the general public alike.
Through the Mary Robinson Foundation, President Robinson leads her most important initiative yet: ensuring that all people, regardless of their circumstances, benefit from the global effort for a newly sustainable future. Awarding her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Barack Obama praised President Robinson as an “advocate for the forgotten and ignored.”
Holding her first grandchild in her arms in 2003, Mary Robinson was struck by the uncertainty of the world he had been born into. Before his fiftieth birthday, he would share the planet with more than nine billion people—people battling for food, water, and shelter in an increasingly volatile climate. The faceless, shadowy menace of climate change had become, in an instant, deeply personal. As the head of her own foundation and as a UN Special Envoy on Climate Change, Robinson became one of the most important voices in the international fight against climate change. Her mission would lead her all over the world, from Malawi to Mongolia, and to a heartening revelation: that an irrepressible driving force in the battle for climate justice could be found at the grassroots level, mainly among women, many of them mothers and grandmothers like herself. Drawing from her stirring manifesto, Climate Justice, Robinson tells the inspiring stories of these change makers, sharing vital lessons for the path forward. By showing how one of the most pressing humanitarian issues of our time has been impacted by the ingenuity and resilience of real people, Robinson inspires all of us to take action.
In this passionate keynote, Mary Robinson views the catastrophic threat of climate change through its unequal impact on the world’s women. She also makes an inspiring case for hope, illustrated by the many women-led grassroots efforts that are having a real impact. From a Mississippi matriarch whose campaign began in her East Biloxi hair salon and culminated in her speaking at the United Nations, to a small farmer who transformed the fortunes of her ailing community in rural Uganda, Robinson shares remarkable and inspiring examples from her latest book, Climate Justice: Hope, Resilience and the Fight for a Sustainable Future. Noting that societal and cultural roles in many parts of the developing world place a greater burden on women as providers of food, water and fuel, Robinson calls for gender-sensitive climate policies that address the reality of women’s needs. She also calls upon all of us as women, mothers, grandmothers and others to fight for climate justice in our own communities.
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