Message from Maurice Strong August 2009

Dear Friends,

Now back in Canada after travelling in Europe following the meeting hosted by IUCN in Gland, I want you to know how profoundly grateful I am to you for your participation and the very moving tributes paid to me at the meeting in Gland. Indeed they were beyond anything I had expected or deserved.

It is entirely understandable that some of you were not able to participate in person, your generous messages received were immensely appreciated. I do hope that we will have the opportunity to see each other in person before too long.

While the focus was on me to an embarrassing degree, I mean it most fervently when I say that this should be more appropriately seen as a tribute to the many others who have contributed, in many cases so much more than I have, to the development of the international environmental movement. It also provides me with a great incentive to continue to work as hard as I can to earn the disproportional recognition my efforts have received.

I have been privileged to experience many memorable moments in my life but none more moving or memorable than this. What I valued most and shall recall with enduring appreciation was the opportunity of sharing this experience with so many friends and colleagues with whom I have worked over the years, many with whom I have lost touch or not seen much of for a long time. I only wish I could have spent more individual time with each of you but the short period we spent together did not permit this. I hope, though, that we will be able to see each other again before too long and I will make every possible effort to do so.

I was especially impressed with the number of people who were able to come to Gland, given the fact that it occurred at what is an unusually busy time and that everyone had to find their own way there.

My fondest hope now is that this event will re-establish and revitalize the close ties of friendship and common interests that we all share in the evolution of the environmental movement from Stockholm and beyond. The greatest source of our hopes and encouragement for the future now resides in the new generation of leadership of the movement which we hope can benefit and build on our insights and experience. We can all be encouraged by the much greater degree of awareness and concern that the environment and related issues, notably climate change, are now receiving. But we have to realize that time is running out. The risks we recognized at an earlier stage are now more imminent and ominous and require a degree of cooperative action beyond anything we have experienced. Yet there is still too little evidence that governments are prepared for the radical changes necessary to ensure the security and sustainability of the Earth’s capacity to support life as we know it.

The report from “Stockholm to Johannesburg and Beyond” commissioned by the Government of Sweden and written by Lars Göran-Engfeldt, copies of which he provided to each of the participants at Gland, is clearly the most authoritative and definitive account of the internationalization of the environment and sustainable development movement. It was both timely and extremely generous for them to make copies available to all the participants. For those who were not present I am sure that Lars can make it possible for you to receive a copy.

I am, and I am sure you are, profoundly grateful to Ashok Khosla and Julia Marton-Lefèvre and their colleagues at IUCN for bringing us together at a time when our insights and experience can be an important source of support for those to whom the mantle of leadership is now passing. To this I believe that the Gland experience has made a timely and much needed contribution.

Let us resolve to keep in closer touch in the future and to share our continuing experiences and insights with each other. To this end I refer you to the website that has been established in my name by some former colleague which will help to keep in touch my own continuing activities.

Again, my deep and profound thanks for your friendship, for your tributes and the prospect of continuing cooperation. My wife, Hanne who has shared these experiences with me also shares my deep feelings of gratitude.