Former president of Ireland and former UN high commissioner for human rights, Mary Robinson, has underlined the importance of impact investment to support sustainability and to help address the climate crisis.
Impact investments are investments made with the intention to generate positive social and environmental impact as well as a financial return.
“The investment impact is a big step in our world today, it’s going to help a lot of people do a lot of things, and that’s really very necessary,” she said after being presented with the inaugural Impact Ireland Award in recognition of her career-long contribution to global environmental sustainability.
The award was presented by U2 members The Edge and Adam Clayton, members of the Global Advisory Council of Impact Ireland, at a ceremony in Dublin hosted by VentureWave Capital, which supports entrepreneurial companies with high impact potential.
Mrs Robinson said the award was recognition of all those who supported her and worked with her over many years. More than ever, she said, she identified with the position of Bishop Desmond Tutu, who described himself as “a prisoner of hope” — the award came with a present of 100 native Irish trees which are to be planted in Co Wicklow.
“These are not easy times … It’s possible to actually almost despair of leadership, almost despair of governance, almost despair of so many other things,” she added.
Mrs Robinson said she could describe the climate change situation as being very grim, “and all the oxygen and all energy would go out of the room. People would put their hands in their head and say, ‘I can’t cope with this. I just want to live my life.’ This is not what we want.”
Being a prisoner of hope was “a very positive way of having the courage to take all the steps that need to be taken”, while doing impossible and achieving a better future, she said.
“The presentation of this award is the high point of the first in-person meeting of our Global Advisory Council with members of the council present from Ireland, Britain, the United States and Asia. Our Impact Ireland fund invests in tech companies that advance the UN’s sustainable development goals. All of these businesses will be grown from Ireland. We are proud to salute Mary Robinson as an Irish woman who is a global champion of Sustainability,” said Kieran McLoughlin, managing partner, VentureWave Capital which founded and manages the Impact Ireland fund.
The event was attended by Taoiseach Micheál Martin; Ireland’s EU commissioner for financial services, financial stability and capital markets union Mairead McGuinness, and former taoiseach Enda Kenny, who is chairman of the Global Advisory Council of VentureWave Capital.