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The Greenest Heroes Gala, Part 4 of a Multi-part Series

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So here in COP16, I think we have a chance to really change attitudes, change behavior, and have an outcome which will bring forward this whole debate on climate change. So, thank you very much indeed and enjoy the evening. Thank you.

Mariana Tosca (vegan): Another very special guest with us this evening is Her Excellency Mary Robinson. A graduate of Harvard Law School, Ms. Robinson was the first woman to hold the office of President of Ireland. She was also the former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Lionel Friedberg (vegan): The recipient of numerous awards and honors throughout the world, Mary Robinson is currently the President of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative. Its mission is to ensure fair and beneficial human rights for people all over the world. Tonight, she shares with us some of her thoughts on climate change and its impacts. Please join me in welcoming Her Excellency Ms. Robinson.

Her Excellency Ms. Robinson: Good afternoon. Good evening. Supreme Master Ching Hai, Honorable Mayor of Cancún, ladies and gentlemen, I am very happy to share a few thoughts with you. I had accepted to give a few remarks, and I am happy that I do it after another former president, President Figueres of Costa Rica. He comes to the issue of climate change, I think, from a more political perspective. I come to the issue of climate change from a human rights context. In my work for the last eight years, with my colleagues in Realizing Rights, we were working on health issues, we were working on women’s leadership and conflict situations, we were working on decent work issues in African countries. And the conversation we were hearing was increasingly about the impact of climate change on subsistence farmers, on indigenous peoples, on poor communities. There were no longer seasons that were predictable. It wasn’t possible to know for farmers when they would sow and when they would reap the harvest.

The weather changes were becoming evermore threatening to poor communities who don’t have insurance. And I learned from some of my friends that actually are here with me this evening. For example, Constance Okot from Northern Uganda speaks about the good life that she had in her poor but stable community as she was growing up, because they had food security, and they had seasons, and they were able to feed their communities. The children went to school, and life was a normal village life. But more recently, that has changed and changed in a very bad way for the community. Instead of having regular seasons, they now have flooding and then eight months of drought and then flooding again, and school has been undermined and the local community. And it is Constance and a group of women who are trying to hold their community together.

At first, she told us yesterday – at a meeting of women leaders on climate justice – at first, she said, “We thought it was God who was punishing us, and we wondered why God was punishing us – a poor people in Northern Uganda.” And then she learned, in fact through Oxfam, I’m Honorary President of Oxfam International, and Oxfam brought her to a meeting to talk as a climate witness about what was happening in her community. And when she described this, she found that in fact it wasn’t God who was punishing her people, it was in fact rich people, people who had profligate lifestyles, that were punishing her people. And that is the essence of the idea of climate justice, that there are poor communities all over the world who are in fragile areas and are increasingly finding that their lifestyles are being undermined, food security is much more difficult. And it is because of the way the more developed parts of the world have used the resources of the Earth.

So, it is important, as you know well in this room, that we change our behaviors, that we learn to reuse, reduce, recycle, and that we learn how to be better stewards of this Earth. So, I admire the way in which you are also putting a lot of emphasis on your own lifestyles, what you eat, what you grow, and how you behave.

And I think we need to have many diverse ways and learn from each other and encourage each other. So, I’m delighted that I was able to come here this evening, but I, too, have to go for urgent reasons, to take part in discussions that are ongoing. It’s that kind of conference I’m afraid, as the Mayor knows. We are here in Cancún to try to change a very, very important issue, I think the most important human rights issue of this century, to ensure that we get a very good agreement from Cancún.

And I’d like to conclude by paying a tribute to Mexico, to the government of Mexico, which has prepared so well this climate conference, which has an open process for this climate conference.

And I’m also very happy that there is the opportunity to bring the voices that need to be heard. Yesterday, in an event which I co-hosted with a number of other organizations, Wangari Maathai of Kenya and her Greenbelt Center, The Nobel Women and Realizing Rights, and the foundation which I have established on climate justice. We brought together grassroots women on climate justice. Tomorrow with the support of the government, the support of the leadership of Mexico, we will have a meeting of women ministers on climate justice, and we will bring the perspective of poor women and their communities, indigenous women to women ministers. We could not do that without the support of the government of Mexico. So not only is the conference being well organized, but there is a lot of thought given to the important gender dimensions of climate, which have not been enough part of the previous COPs.

So here in COP16, I think we have a chance to really change attitudes, change behavior, and have an outcome which will bring forward this whole debate on climate change. So, thank you very much indeed and enjoy the evening. Thank you.

Mariana Tosca (vegan): Thank you so much. If I just may say on a personal note, I’m so grateful that there are voices like yours out there, who are so well spoken and so impassioned as advocates for especially indigenous peoples. So, thank you very, very much, Mary Robinson.

Lionel Friedberg (vegan): Well, ladies and gentlemen, let’s begin the evening’s entertainment. With regard to the arts, performing arts, arts in all its forms, our special guest as you know tonight is Supreme Master Ching Hai. She’s not only a humanitarian, and a bestselling author, and spiritual teacher, She’s also a poet and very, very fine artist. Her work is so deep and touching that it frequently has inspired composers to adapt Her poetry to music. So, we have a treat for you tonight.

Mariana Tosca (vegan): Having met You personally, I know that You’re very shy and very humble about Your poetry, so I would like You to know how very, very grateful we are that Your profound poems can be offered to the public at large through songs like this. So, our first performance tonight is a song adapted from Supreme Master Ching Hai’s tender poem entitled, “Visiting You,”

with a musical score written by the wonderfully gifted David Shire.

Lynne Wintersteller is a gifted soprano singer and talented actress.

Tonight, David Shire and Lynne Wintersteller combine their musical talents to present an original composition based on Supreme Master Ching Hai’s poem, “Visiting You.” The song will be sung by Lynne, accompanied on the piano by David, and this will be followed by his Academy Award winning song, “It Goes Like It Goes,” with music and lyrics by him and Norman Gimbel. So, please, ladies and gentlemen, will you help us give them a very, very warm round of applause?

Lynne Wintersteller: We had a wonderful surprise honor today. The Supreme Master, She made lunch for us. (Wow!) It’s very nice! And I know you refer to Her as the Supreme Master, but to us, after our lunch and our lovely conversation and meeting You, we are going to call You “Mommy Heart.” Beautiful. And She’s a good cook, too! We are combining – as a surprise to You – a poem that You wrote, David Shire, writing a beautiful song, music, that goes with it, for You to enjoy.

Supreme Master Ching Hai (vegan): I'm embarrassed, but I'm grateful.

Lynne Wintersteller: I set out, Spreading my wings to the heavens. I proceed to call on you, The one I cherish…

The Earth is vibrant, Exulting in our reunion An uncommon day of happiness, Together as on our first meeting Let us overlook The nights of our distress, Because from now We are together A long time…a long time!

Vast, open arms A profound, tender kiss Together this night, Let’s forget yesterdays And the rest.

We depart at sunrise, Return at twilight, Sing on full moon nights, Chorus on breezy days. Life is an aromatic flower garden Oh, Mein!

Her Excellency Ms. Robinson: In homes and in communities, we can encourage all kinds of changes, and reducing, recycling, reusing, and being aware that we have to hand this planet on and in good standing to our children’s children and at the moment we’re not on course to do that. I think it’s important that we all recognize that we need to reduce our consumption of meat and other ways in which we’re using up the resources of the planet.

Lynne Wintersteller: I was invited like everyone else last Tuesday. We just did it real fast and a miracle happened, we all just showed up. “Cancun? Sure, we’ll be there!”

I’ve never been involved in something so exciting. The word that comes to mind is “international.” It’s a fantastic cause, and it’s also just fantastic to be a part of all these different cultures, and all these different worlds, and all these different costumes backstage. And the Japanese garb and the Chinese garb, and it’s Korean. It’s fantastic. We’re having a ball. And we have pop, we have opera, we have all sorts of styles, and The Beach Boys.

I love Her. I’m calling Her “Mommy Heart.” We had a special treat to meet Her - I guess a brunch – and She had us up to Her room. And She cooked for us. I mean, it was a spread of food. And there’s so much more backstage that She brought, and She wants everybody to take a bag of food home. She’s quite remarkable. She really is. “Mommy Heart,” I love You.

It was an honor to meet Her. Keep doing what You are doing. Keep elevating Yourself, because as You elevate Yourself, You elevate us. And God bless You. And I love You, “Mommy Heart.” I’ll never forget You; I won’t forget You. I hope I see You again. I know I’ll see You again. There are no coincidences in life. My consciousness is elevated. It really is.

Be Veg, Go Green, 2 Save the Planet! Please!

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