Climate justice champion Mary Robinson has today been announced as the winner of the fifth Charleston John Maynard Keynes Prize.

Robinson is the first women to be honoured with the prize, given in the spirit of John Maynard Keynes’ work, life and legacy. This global prize recognises an outstanding individual contribution to society. Each winner exemplifies one or more of Keynes’ great achievements: an outstanding gift used in the service of humanity, original thinking to solve global challenges, talent for communicating complex ideas and an ability to bridge the divide between the arts and social sciences. Previous winners were Sir David Attenborough, Professor Stephen Hawking, Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen.

Mary Robinson is the president of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, and has previously served as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Climate Change. She is the former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

In 2018, Robinson released the book Climate Justice, highlighting the work of her foundation which promotes the urgent need for innovation, global solidarity and empathy in the turbulent and troubling times in which we find ourselves. Through Climate Justice Robinson explores the profound injustice of climate change – that the vulnerable in our society will suffer most, those who are marginalised, poor, women and indigenous communities. Robinson is fighting for nations to address the imbalance and ensure that we leave a safer and fairer world to future generations.

On receiving the prize Mary Robinson said: ‘I am delighted to have been awarded a Prize which pays tribute to John Maynard Keynes.  In 2019 we are marking the 100th anniversary of the Paris Peace Conference at Versailles post world war one.  Keynes played a crucial role in warning that punitive reparations would lead to disaster rather than justice. His humanitarian advice was rejected and the second world war followed. We are at a similar turning point today. We need the nations of the world to come together to take necessary action to avert the global catastrophe of climate change. We need to show the same spirit of solidarity that John Maynard Keynes displayed in his time.’

Robinson will give the annual John Maynard Keynes Lecture at the Charleston Festival on Friday 24 May. The full programme for the 2019 Festival is now available at: Other luminaries in the Festival programme include Gina Miller, Kamal Ahmed, Peter Blake, Simon Callow, Tina Brown, Martin Rees, Maria Balshaw, Naomi Wolf, Alan Bennett and many more.

Dame Liz Forgan, chair of the Charleston John Maynard Keynes Prize advisory panel, said: If globalisation has many downsides it has one rare but wonderful consequence:  it calls up exceptional individuals with the vision and moral courage to match its challenges. Mary Robinson is one of those individuals whose work for human rights has been a force for good on a global scale in her native Ireland, the UN, Africa and the parts of the world suffering worst from the effects of climate change.

The advisory panel comprises Dame Liz Forgan, former Chair of the Scott Trust and of Arts Council England; Professor Simon Keynes, great-nephew of John Maynard Keynes; Anne Morrison, until recently Chair of BAFTA; currently Chair of BAFTA’s International Committee, board member of Women in Film and Television and a Trustee of The Charleston Trust, Professor Michael Proctor, Provost of King’s College, Cambridge and Lord Robert Skidelsky, Emeritus Professor of Political Economy, politician and award-winning biographer of Keynes.

Keynes wrote The Economic Consequences of the Peace while staying at Charleston and subsequently moved to Tilton, just a stroll across a field away. Keynes embodies the radical and interdisciplinary nature of the Charleston milieu. His The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money was recently voted the most influential academic book that has shaped our times.

The Charleston John Maynard Keynes Prize is supported by Mayfield School. 

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