In Memoriam – Maurice Strong 1929-2015

Bonn, 30 November 2015 – Maurice Strong, founding Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), has passed away at the age of 86.

In tribute, CMS Executive Secretary, Bradnee Chambers said: “Maurice Strong was a champion for the environment. He was innovator and a genius at building multilateral institutions and bringing the world new ideas at moments when they needed them the most.   He achieved great things in his lifetime including as the chief architect of UNEP, the UN principle body for the environment, the father of the two most important global summits that solidified the environment and sustainable development movements and one of the early pioneers that put climate change issues onto the global agenda.  As a UN civil servant working in the environment I see his legacy every day. As a Canadian, I could not be prouder to have known such a great man who gave so much to the world. We will miss him, but his legacies will live on.”

Born in Manitoba, Canada, Maurice Strong started out as an entrepreneur in Alberta, serving as president of Power Corporation of Canada until 1966.  He was Secretary General of the United Nations Conference of the Human Environment – the Stockholm Conference which led to the creation of both UNEP and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). 

He returned to his homeland as Chief Executive of Petro-Canada and headed Ontario Hydro.  In 1986 he was appointed to the World Commission on Environment and Development (the Brundtland Commission), the body which coined the phrase “Sustainable Development”.  Working at the heart of global environmental governance processes over the years, he was one of the architects of the Rio Earth Summit and Agenda 21 which gave rise to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

With world leaders gathering in Paris for the start of the UNFCCC Conference, the best tribute that can be paid to Maurice Strong is to ensure that the climate agenda which he championed continues to be advanced.

Read  the statement of the current Executive Director, Achim Steiner here.

Last updated on 30 November 2015