Strong saluted as father of en­vi­ron­men­tal move­ment

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OBITUARIES -

He changed my life. That phrase came up re­peat­edly Wed­nes­day as movers and shak­ers from around the globe paid trib­ute to Mau­rice Strong, a high school dropout who be­came a multi-mil­lion­aire busi­ness­man, pub­lic ser­vant, United Na­tions fix­ture and in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned cham­pion of the en­vi­ron­ment.

Strong died last Novem­ber at the age of 86.

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, whose late father picked Strong to be the found­ing head of Petro-Canada back in the 1970s, called him “a truly great ci­ti­zen of Canada and ci­ti­zen of the world” who has left be­hind an in­cred­i­ble legacy as “a bril­liant busi­ness­man, de­voted en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist, an in­spi­ra­tional phi­lan­thropist.”

For­mer prime min­is­ter Paul Martin re­called how Strong gave him his first job and was one of those who said Strong “changed my life.”

“In fact, he bet­tered the lives of most peo­ple that he knew.”

Among those who spoke at the cel­e­bra­tion of Strong's life were for­mer World Bank pres­i­dent James Wolfen­sohn, for­mer Gov­er­nor Gen­eral Adri­enne Clark­son and her hus­band, au­thor John Ral­ston Saul, and Achim Steiner, un­der-sec­re­tary gen­eral of the United Na­tions - a po­si­tion Strong him­self held for many years.

Glow­ing writ­ten tributes were sent by for­mer Soviet Union pres­i­dent Mikhail Gor­bachev, for­mer Nor­we­gian prime min­is­ter Gro Har­lem Brunt­land and for­mer UN sec­re­tary-gen­eral Kofi An­nan, who called Strong the “father of the world en­vi­ron­men­tal move­ment.”

Strong headed the first UN con­fer­ence on the en­vi­ron­ment in Stock­holm in 1972, set up the UN's en­vi­ron­ment pro­gram, and led the Earth sum­mit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 - pre­cur­sor to the Ky­oto, Copen­hagen and Paris ac­cords on cli­mate change.

He also led UN famine re­lief ef­forts in Africa.

“He changed the world,” said Ral­ston Saul.

CP PHOTO

For­mer Gov­er­nor Gen­eral Adri­enne Clark­son, from right, Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau; Hanne Strong, wife of Mau­rice Strong; Gov­er­nor Gen­eral David John­ston; for­mer prime Min­is­ter Joe Clark and for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Paul Martin at­tend a com­mem­o­ra­tion cer­e­mony for Mau­rice Strong in Ottawa on Wed­nes­day.

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