Founding Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Maurice Strong passed away at age 86. In his statement, Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of UNEP, said:
“Today the world mourns one of its greats. Maurice Strong was a visionary and a pioneer of global sustainable development.
“His courageous leadership allowed the Stockholm Conference of 1972 to make history by launching a new era of international environmental diplomacy which saw the birth of UNEP, the first UN agency to be headquartered in a developing country. Not a believer in summits as an end in themselves, he accepted the appointment to become UNEP’s first Executive Director and moved to Kenya to establish UNEP’s iconic global headquarters on what was then a coffee farm on the outskirts of Nairobi.
“Strong will forever be remembered for placing the environment on the international agenda and at the heart of development. He shepherd global environmental governance processes — from the original Rio Earth Summit, Agenda 21 and the Rio Declaration to the launch of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity.
“As the Paris Climate Conference commences, we hope his words echo strong. I reiterate his message to the 2014 UN General Assembly calling on world leaders to ‘rise to their historic responsibility as custodians of the planet, to take decisions that will unite rich and poor, North, South, East and West, in a new global partnership to ensure our common future’.
“The sustainability road-map which started in Stockholm, continued in Rio, Johannesburg and Rio+20, must now become a reality in Paris. This would indeed be the most fitting tribute to the legacy of Maurice Strong; leader, mentor and friend.
“Mr. Strong served the United Nations as well as the international community in many capacities – among them as Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Human Environment in Stockholm (1972) and the Rio Sustainable Development Summit (1992). Today we join his family, friends and countless communities across the world in celebrating his life and legacy – with respect, admiration and gratitude”.