She told Green Week at Trinity College Dublin that climate change was inseparable from other sustainable development goals.
Sustainable development should be on the school curriculum as a “holistic” approach is needed to combat climate change, Mary Robinson has said.
At the launch of Trinity College Dublin’s Green Week, which runs until Friday, the former president said: “I would like to see the sustainable development goals begin to be part of the curriculum here in Trinity and in schools so that we begin to make this part of our life in a way that really makes a difference.”
The UN – of which Robinson is a former High Commissioner – lists ending poverty and hunger, achieving gender equality, taking urgent action on climate change and ensuring responsible consumption and production as some of its sustainable development goals.
The 74-year-old described the goals as “very relevant to our world”.
"The important point is the interconnection between the 17 sustainable development goals, that’s their strength,” she said.
“They don’t portray gender equality as somehow separate from climate action or ocean pollution, or ocean pollution separate from consumption and production.
“The fact that the goals are indivisible and interrelated makes them very relevant to our world because we live in a complex world and we need a holistic approach.”
She added that the set goals need to be interpreted together with broader climate change goals, referencing specifically the news that scientists had learned last year that there was a significant difference between the effects of 1.5 degrees of warming and 2 degrees of warming.
“The big difference is that between 1.5 degrees and 2 degrees things happen: coral reefs disappear, the Arctic ice melts and the permafrost seriously melts and that means we will have blow-backs and climate changes of a significant sort.
“The scientists are telling us unequivocally that we have to stay at or below 1.5 degrees and if we happen to go above 1.5 degrees we have to suck that carbon out of the atmosphere and come back and stay at 1.5 degrees to have a liveable world,” she said.
“So we have to live sustainably.”
Robinson became the first woman elected as President of Ireland when she was inaugurated in 1990.