Former President of Ireland to Speak at UA

Mary Robinson will talk about the connection between climate change and human rights at Centennial Hall

The former president of Ireland, Mary Robinson, will present a talk, "Everybody Matters: Climate Change and Human Rights," at 6 p.m. Thursday in Centennial Hall on the University of Arizona campus. Admission is free.

Robinson, who served as the first woman president of Ireland from 1990 to 1997 and as United Nations high commissioner for human rights from 1997 to 2002, will discuss the importance of including the most vulnerable populations of the world in solutions to climate change.

"Climate change threatens lives and livelihoods around the world," said Diana Liverman, co-director of the UA’s Institute of the Environment. "The University of Arizona has dozens of faculty and students working on society and climate change. The southwestern U.S. is a region where climate change will have disproportionate impacts on poor, indigenous and other often-disadvantaged people. I am thrilled Mrs. Robinson accepted our invitation to speak on this topic."

Robinson’s talk is presented in conjunction with the Tucson Festival of Books. Her 2013 book, "Everybody Matters: My Life Giving Voice," will be on sale in Centennial Hall ($18 paperback, $26 hardcover). The festival will take place Saturday and Sunday on the UA campus.

In 2005, Robinson was named a "Hero and Icon" as one of Time magazine’s top 100 men and women whose "power, talent or moral example is transforming the world." As a U.N. special envoy on climate change and president of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, she works to seek justice for those who are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, especially the poor and marginalized, and to improve the record on human rights and environmental governance around the world.

She is a founding member of the Council of Women World Leaders and a member of the Elders, a group of world leaders founded by Nelson Mandela who contribute their wisdom, independent leadership and integrity to help make the world a better and more peaceful place. 

Trained as a lawyer, Robinson is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama and the Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience award. 

Robinson’s visit — her first to Arizona — is sponsored by the Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environment and Social Justice. The program supports individuals and activities that seek to understand and convey the challenges facing society in a world at risk from environmental change and loss of natural and cultural diversity. 

"Mary Robinson is the perfect choice to honor Mrs. Haury’s interests in environment and social justice and her commitment to international cooperation," Liverman said. "Mrs. Robinson has been a tireless advocate for human rights and a role model in international leadership, most recently on climate change. She is particularly concerned about how climate change will affect the most vulnerable and on ensuring an ethical response. I heard her speak at a recent international conference and she is inspiring."


Media contact:

Anna Spitz

520-626-4584 (link sends e-mail)

Published Date: 

03/10/2015 - 10:47am