This week in Say More, PS talks with Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and current Chair of The Elders.
Project Syndicate: In April, you and Daya Reddy noted that the COVID-19 pandemic “has shown that governments can act swiftly and resolutely in a crisis, and that people are ready to change their behavior for the good of humanity,” and you called for the same urgency to be adopted vis-à-vis climate change. But, eight months later, “pandemic fatigue” has set in, weakening compliance with public-health restrictions. What does this imply about effective climate solutions?
Mary Robinson: While the World Health Organization and others have used the term “pandemic fatigue,” I urge caution in applying this label. We must not conflate the anxiety associated with lockdowns – often linked to economic concerns – with an unwillingness to adhere to public-health guidance.
Millions of people around the world are facing significant adversity. Governments must provide adequate financial and social protection, so that the poor and marginalized do not feel they must choose between protecting their health and providing for their families. And they must address the deeper social inequalities that the pandemic has exacerbated.
We ask all our Say More contributors to tell our readers about a few books that have impressed them recently. Here are Robinson's picks:
by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson
This wonderful collection of essays and poetry is rooted in feminist principles and written entirely by women and girls. By including a range of work by scientists, journalists, younger and older people, performers, poets, and academics, it demonstrates the importance of diversity in storytelling. It is an uplifting and encouraging read, which can serve as a powerful source of strength and solidarity for anyone feeling climate anxiety.
by Jamie Margolin
Kofi Annan, my dear friend and a former chair of the Elders, used to say, “You are never too young to lead, and you are never too old learn.” This sums up why I am recommending a book written by a youth activist! Margolin offers many very practical tips for anyone of any age who wants to take climate action.
by Sonia Shah
If the climate crisis is one of the greatest existential threats facing humanity, forced migration is one of its most problematic consequences. In this important book, Shah examines the reality of climate migration, both as a major challenge and as a potential solution to the broader climate crisis.
From the PS Archive
In “Gender Equality and Earth’s Future,” Robinson, Amina J. Mohammed, and Christiana Figueres urge those working on sustainable development to put women’s rights at the center of the effort. Read more.
Around the web
Around the Web
In a discussion with John Shaw, Director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, Robinson discusses climate change, human rights, and other global challenges. Watch the video.
In the season-three finale of Mothers of Invention!, Robinson, Maeve Higgins, and Thimali Kodikara delve into the perspective of today’s young climate activists, with the help of guests Xiye Bastida and Pooja Reddy. Listen to the podcast.