150+ Canadians Day 93: Maurice Strong

Image: Strong at the United Nations in Stockholm (Global Warming Policy Foundation).

Maurice Strong contributed to peace as a leader in global discussions on environmental protection, particularly at the United Nations.

Early in his career, Maurice Strong served as head of the Canadian International Development Agency. He then held a number of posts with the United Nations, including presiding over the 1972 Stockholm conference on the human environment. In 1976 Strong was appointed as the first head of the national oil company Petro-Canada – his business associations with “big oil” were not without their controversies. In 1992, he presided over the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.  This led to the launch of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; both events are considered watershed moments in international environmental diplomacy.

“Don’t accept that you can’t make a difference. Because if you can’t make a difference, you won’t make a difference, and if you put a multiplier on that we will continue on an unsustainable pathway.”

Strong’s work was instrumental in ushering in a new era of international environmental diplomacy which saw the birth of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the first UN agency to be headquartered in a developing country (Kenya). As head of UNEP, Strong convened the first international expert group meeting on climate change. For his service, he was made a companion of the Order of Canada and a member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada. Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau said of him, “Mr. Strong was an internationally recognized environmentalist and philanthropist who used his remarkable business acumen, organizational skills and humanity to make the world a better place.”

“We must, from here on in, all go down the same path… There may not be another chance.”

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