Tributes

Dedication to Maurice Strong

 

Extracts of a Dedication to Maurice Strong by the late William Clarke, President of the International Institute of Environment and Development, in the Environmentalist Magazine, Volume 4, Number 2, June 1984.

"To dedicate an issue of The Environmentalist to Maurice Strong is a most fitting tribute to the Secretary General of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, and the first Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme in Nairobi.

But it would be an inadequate tribute if it concentrated on those five years out of a crowed fifty-five, and those two posts out of a myriad other jobs and avocations.

Maurice Strong has been so many things; a top UN executive; a leading North American tycoon; the government appointed head of Petro-Canada's national oil company; the founder of the private sector International Energy Development Corporation -- which helped the developing world to meet its oil and energy needs. This strange mixture of private and public enterprise reached its climax this past year when he became chairman of the (Governmental) Canada Development Investment Corporation -- which looks after Trudeau's nationalised industries -- while continuing as the top Director of the vast American private conglomerate Tosco.

His critics complain that Maurice Strong changes jobs far too often, and cannot make up his mind whether he belongs in the public or private sector, the international or the Canadian sphere. In the United Nations where the top jobs as head of the affiliated organisations are defended with tooth and claw by their holders against any predators, there is still wonderment at Strong's voluntary relinquishment of office as the head of UNEP. Was he bored with Nairobi? Did he want to become Secretary General of the UN? Or did he just want to exercise his amazing talent for making money? And if he has such talent as an entrepreneur why does he involve himself in the sterile public sector?

Such criticism is not uncommon but it is misconceived, and it fails utterly to measure the man and the sources of his greatness and success. Maurice Strong does not owe his eminence to his fabulous energy, his financial shrewdness, or his worldwide network of powerful contacts stretching from Australia to Zambia.

He is recognised as eminent by his peers because of his vision. He has the vision of the astronaut; seeing planet earth as a globe without boundaries, cradled in its fragile life-supporting biosphere.

The divisions of the earth into North and South, East and West are manmade lines on the map, ignoring the reality that we have "only one earth". This was the title he and his fellow visionary Barbara Ward chose for the theme book of the Stockholm Conference. It expressed exactly the spirit in which Maurice Strong conducted that landmark (or planetmark?) conference.

As with all United Nations conferences there was a lot of political division to be overcome before the environmentalists could even get down to work--at one point it looked as though the conference would never meet because of a dispute about the representation of East Germany. Many more substantial disagreements emerged during the months of preparation for the Conference: in particular there was a basic division between the industrialised world and the poorer developing countries which were the source of so many raw materials."

For full text, go to: http://www.springerlink.com/content/8747v5637372354l