Maurice Strong

Maurice F. Strong has had a very diverse career, including positions as Under-Secretary General of the United Nations, Executive Co-ordinator of the UN Office for Emergency Operations in Africa and Secretary of the UN Conference on Environment and Development.

On November 10, 1992, Strong presented the second O.D. Skelton Memorial Lecture at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, with particular attention to the recent United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, or Earth Summit, in Rio de Janeiro, which he had chaired. There leaders of 180 countries had reached an agreement on the most far-reaching set of measures ever approved internationally.

According to Strong, this framework provided essential elements for a new global partnership to support a secure and sustainable future, although much would depend on implementation by governments. Strong depicts some of his own experiences as well as facts on the destruction of natural resources around the world and explains some of the pros and cons of the conclusions reached in Rio. He suggests what countries must do to avoid global destruction and to enhance economic growth and environmentally sound behaviour. Economic interdependence, for example, could contribute to world peace and security.

Finally, Strong provides some examples of actual or potential Canadian contributions. With one of the earth’s largest land masses and relatively abundant resources, Canada is in an ideal position to set an example for the rest of the world. Thus, Strong concludes, Canada can make a unique contribution to meeting the objectives agreed in Rio.

Biography of Maurice F. Strong

Maurice F. Strong was born in Oak Lake, Manitoba, in 1929. From 1948 to 1966, he served in investment and senior management positions with corporations in the energy and financial sectors.

In 1966, Mr. Strong resigned as president of Power Corporation of Canada to head Canada’s External Aid Office, later reorganized as the Canadian International Development Agency. From November 1970 until December 1972, Mr. Strong was Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment. He then became the first Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme. Mr. Strong returned to Canada as President, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Petro-Canada (1976-78). He served as Chairman of the International Energy Development Corporation from 1980 to 1983 and of the Canada Development Investment Corporation from 1982 to 1984.

Since 1985, he has been an Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations. In 1985 and 1986, he was concurrently Executive Co-ordinator of the United Nations Office for Emergency Operations in Africa and a member of the World Commission on Environment and Development. More recently, he was Secretary-General of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development.

Over the years, he has also been involved in voluntary work with various organizations and institutes that deal with development, environmental and humanitarian issues. He has received numerous conservation and humanitarian awards as well as honorary doctorates from 29 universities. Maurice Strong is an officer of the Order of Canada and a member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada.