Maurice Strong’s Legacy Lives On
Maurice Strong, the founding Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), passed away on November 28, 2015. A pioneer of environment and sustainable developed, he will be remembered as an entrepreneur committed to the common good.
A Canadian national, Mr. Strong worked both in the private and public sectors, as a President of an energy and utility company and as Deputy Minister of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). Known for his diplomatic and leadership skills, Mr. Strong served as Secretary-General to two key global environmental conferences: the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment and the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. He headed UNEP from its creation in 1972 until 1975 when he was succeeded by the Deputy Executive Director, Mostafa Tolba.
In 2009, the Global Environmental Governance Project convened the Global Environmental Governance Forum: Reflecting on the Past, Moving into the Future in Glion, Switzerland. It was the first time that all five successive UNEP Executive Directors Maurice Strong, Mostafa Tolba, Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Klaus Töpfer, and Achim Steiner came together to discuss UNEP’s past and deliberate on its future. “We brought together several generations of environmental leaders,” noted Maria Ivanova, the organizer of the event, “with the purpose to learn from the founders of the system and inject new vigor into the negotiations on international environmental governance at the time. Maurice Strong urged us all to be bold, ambitious, and audacious.”
Achim Steiner, the current Executive Director of UNEP, noted that “Strong will forever be remembered for placing the environment on the international agenda and at the heart of development.”