Maurice Strong receives Four Freedoms Award

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands at the centre with Maurice Strong and other award recipients.

Maurice Strong is one of the recipients of this year's Four Freedoms Awards, established by the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute and the Roosevelt Stichting. He received the Freedom from Want medal from Ambassador William J. vanden Heuval, Founder and Chair Emeritus of the Roosevelt Institute, at a ceremony in the presence of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.

Every year, the two institutes work together to grant the International Four Freedoms Award. In addition, they also award four medals to distinguished recepients, who have worked in the following areas: Freedom of Speech and Expression, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want Medal, and Freedom from Fear.

The citation for the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Freedom Medal says:

"Freedom from Want – everywhere in the world. With these words, Franklin Roosevelt challenged humanity to create a global community, a community careful of its resources, prepared to confront poverty and disease, and understanding its responsibility to protect the Earth and its environment as the legacy to generations yet unborn.

On this 29th day of May, 2010, in recognition of his pioneering leadership in compelling all nations to recognize the perils of environmental degradation and the rewards of environmental sustainability, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt International Medal for Freedom from Want is awarded to:

Maurice Strong

A son of the Canadian prairies, the poverty of the Great Depression taught you a number of very important lessons: the value of hard work and discipline; the critical importance of a good education; compassion for your fellow man; and a deep and abiding respect for the natural world.  The Atlantic Charter was declared in 1941 after the first meeting of Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.  It committed their nations to a vision of the postwar world based on the Four Freedoms.  You understood their message and determined that you would be part of that great effort.

Your brilliance quickly won you powerful positions in Canada’s corporate structure.  Nations were just beginning to understand the rising expectations of the developing world.  Your experience had prepared you to begin the international commitment that has marked your life.  Lester Pearson, Canada’s universal citizen and its Prime Minister, invited you to help create the Canadian International Development Agency, an effort that reflected your country’s traditional humanity and generosity and gave expression to your personal goals and ideals.

The United Nations took note of your work.  It decided to convene its first major conference on environmental issues in Stockholm in 1972.  The Secretary-General of the UN asked you to organize and lead that Conference.  You did, and it was a brilliant success.  For the first time the world’s agenda listed the environment as a priority.  The General Assembly then established the United Nations Environment Program and elected you to lead it.  Having successfully launched UNEP, you returned to Canada to important responsibilities in both the private and public sectors.  You were already recognized as “the father” of the environmental movement and as such, you were the natural choice to become Secretary-General of the Rio de Janeiro UN Conference on Environment and Development.  That Conference stands today as the landmark of the international environmental movement.

You had defined sustainable development, and the Rio Conference adopted its principles – that it is possible to meet human resources needs on a global scale while preserving the environment for future generations.  A program of action was approved. Agreements on climate change and biodiversity were negotiated.

Your continued leadership in both the public and private sectors has carried forward the international agenda.  You are recognized as a consummate diplomat. Secretary-Generals of the UN have sought your service and wise counsel in critical situations.  You revitalized the University for Peace established by the General Assembly.  The leaders of all nations – great and small – respect your accomplishments and the integrity of your global vision.  In business and government, in the cause of the environment and humanity itself, in peace and war, you have transcended nationality to be recognized as truly a Citizen of the World.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt would have seen you as an Executor of his legacy – and in his name we honor and thank you today for your courage, dedication, and fidelity to the cause of the Four Freedoms."

For more information, go to: http://www.fourfreedoms.nl/index.php?lang=en&id=33