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Monday 23 October 2017

Robinson returns to set up climate charity

Shane Hickey

FORMER president Mary Robinson is to return to Ireland to set up a charity which aims to put a human face on the problem of climate change.

The new organisation -- called the 'Mary Robinson Foundation -- Climate Justice' (MRFCJ) -- will begin at the start of next year.

Ms Robinson has been based in New York since 2002 and has been working for a non-governmental organisation called 'Realising Rights'.

Her husband Nick travels frequently between their home in Mayo and New York while their children are now grown up.

Yesterday, it was announced Ms Robinson will move back to Ireland by the end of the year to set up the new charity, where she will work on a pro-bono basis.

"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," she said.

Last night the charity's chief executive Bride Rosney, a former adviser to Ms Robinson, said the new organisation would focus on the human face of climate change.

There had been a trend where the subject was identified with science, geographic and animal "icons", she said.

"When climate change started, the whole focus was around the polar bear and the ice-cap. Very much what she is doing is putting a human face on that, that it is about people and the impacts on people," Ms Rosney said.

"For example, in African countries, they no longer have a clue when to plant their seeds, because their seasons no longer fall in the traditional ways. It is about putting the human consequences of climate change central."


A team of distinguished international experts will advise the charity. The first project will be on the development of women's leadership and climate justice.

Six people will be employed by the body which will be "encouraging other people, harnessing the best practice and sharing the best practice", Ms Rosney said adding: "This is not an empire."

Funded by private donations, it has secured support from philanthropic organisations including the Rockefeller, Nduna and Skoll Foundations in the US, the One Foundation in Ireland and Virgin Unite.

MRFCJ will be governed by a board of trustees -- chaired by Mrs Robinson -- which includes Tom Arnold of Concern and Irene Khan, the former secretary general of Amnesty.

The charity will be based in the Innovation Academy of the Universities established by Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and University College Dublin (UCD), which have also nominated two board members.

Among those on the advisory council will be businessman Richard Branson and former US vice-president Al Gore.

Irish Independent

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