Official presentation of the award and a lecture by Mary Robinson will take place on the evening of the 26 March, 2019.
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is proud to announce this year’s Kew International Medal is Mary Robinson. A world-leading advocate for environmental and human rights, and the first female president of Ireland. The Medal is awarded to individuals for distinguished, recognised work aligned with RBG Kew’s mission.
Mary was chosen for her integral work on climate justice. The notion that the growing impacts of climate change are wiping out opportunities for the world’s poor. This is wrongly when the poor have contributed the least to greenhouse emissions. This connects directly with human dependency on plants. This is especially in relation to agriculture, crops, and therefore food security in the wake of climate change.
On learning that she has won this award, and invited to deliver a lecture on climate justice and biodiversity, Mary Robinson said:
“This is a great honour for me. We face unprecedented losses of biodiversity and rapid environmental change. The invaluable scientific work that RBG Kew does globally is helping to conserve and sustain the plants and crops that matter to supporting local communities for a sustainable future. We will only succeed in securing climate justice if we stay true to the science. We need fact-based, evidence-based science to determine the global policy agenda.”
It is the interconnectedness of science, policy, and people’s lives that lies of the heart of Mary’s work as both an esteemed member of The Elders. This is a group of global leaders working together for peace and justice. She is also the founder of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice. Through her Foundation, Mary has involved herself in projects in Malawi, Bangladesh, Colombia, Ecuador and Ethiopia. Her she is transforming these areas, influencing policy, and seeing real action taken to build climate resilience and enhance food security in communities most at risk.
Mary advocates for climate justice to feature at the forefront of education. She is working to engage young people in pressing scientific issues to inform and inspire the thought leaders of the future. She is passionate about communicating and engaging with people on a humanitarian level. She aims to increase awareness about the threats facing the environment, plant life, and the humans that depend on it. This is a mission that lies at the very heart of Kew’s own ethos.
Kew conducts it’s own work in this area. This includes the critical research on the Enset crop in Africa, and on controlling crop pests seeks to drive positive impact in much the same way.
In selecting Mary Robinson, Richard Deverell, director of RBG Kew said:
“A charismatic and influential leader of our times. Mary Robinson is an international champion of climate justice. She is an expert at communicating to a wide audience the importance of conserving the natural world. With this award we want to acknowledge the integral work Mary has done to advocate the pressing issue of food security. We also appreciate her work to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change on our planet.”
Kew is working to raise public awareness of the actions needed to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. They relate this to tackling food insecurity, developing more sustainable agriculture, and protecting ecosystem services through research in partnership with hundreds of institutions worldwide.