At beginning of this New Year, Mary Robinson as the new Chair of the Elders, reflected on the loss of Kofi Annan and on the events and issues of the past year. But she also focused on action. Faced with such an array of complex challenges she said, we must not succumb to fatalism or despair. “As Elders, we know that positive change is possible, Kofi always reminded us that “you are never too young to lead, and never too old to learn.”[It is worth reading this entire article alongside the brief article in our Summer into Winter edition of Bachlóga (the NEP Magazine). Presentation Sisters working in Asia and Africa (at the HLPF in New York) discuss the concrete ways in which the Congregation is working towards the realisation of Global Sustainable Development Goals. See Winter 2018 Bachloga NEP Magazine – Presentation Sisters at the HLPF 2018
Speaking on behalf of the Elders Mary Robinson said:
“Our work remains substantial, and urgent. Today, our world faces two existential threats that are the top priorities for The Elders in 2019: climate change and nuclear proliferation. Both threats demand a concerted and coordinated international response, and in both cases the consequences of inaction are genuinely frightening. Nothing less than the survival of our planet is at stake. We have no greater responsibility to ourselves and future generations than to act now, with clarity, conviction and compassion”.
On Climate Change and Nuclear Proliferation
“[…] the science is clear even if some political leaders continue to act with incredible irresponsibility, and deny what is blindingly obvious. As the report from the UN’s
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) made clear last October, we have less than a dozen years to cut global emissions by 45 percent, and keep temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Any rise over this level spells catastrophe for global ecosystems, flora, fauna and whole communities.
This is not just a matter of environmental concern. It affects social justice, sustainable development, human rights, peace and global stability – in short, it matters to every woman, man and child on the face of the planet”.
This piece very much reminded me of the presentations and discussions at our North East Province JPIC Commission Justice Day
“None of them [every woman, man and child on the face of the planet] will forgive leaders who willfully spurn their responsibilities, or continue to prioritise short-term political gains or the interests of their corporate backers, over the imperative to develop a climate-resilient, zero-carbon economy and development model”.
“Many of the same moral arguments apply to the issue of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Those of us who grew up in the shadow of the Cold War were acutely aware of the devastating, indiscriminate threat posed by these weapons and were determined that they should never be used”.
Mary Robinson said:
“The common strand binding these two challenges is that both can only be effectively addressed by ethical leadership and multilateral cooperation.
We need to puncture the vanity and delusions of those leaders – mostly men, it must be noted – who believe that individual nations can shape the global order to their liking through brute force or bullying, without any consideration for human rights or social justice.
Most importantly, we need to insist on a people-centred, holistic approach to tackling all the interlocked global challenges – including equality for women and girls, sustainable development, universal health coverage, access to justice and the strengthening of democratic institutions.
We also need to be vigilant in upholding the values and standards of truth, integrity and decency across public life, including political and media discourse. When powerful men dismiss critical reports as “fake news” and defame independent journalists as “enemies of the people”, this is a mortal threat to all our freedoms which must be vigorously resisted.
The year ahead will be critical in ensuring that our world takes the necessary steps to secure a sustainable, peaceful and prosperous future”.
“It is incumbent on all of us to act with passion, hope and resolve to deliver this vision for our children and grandchildren”.
(the emphasis added to the text is mine).
See link to the Elders site and full article We must not succumb to fatalism or despair – Elders article