Tribute from Ruud Lubbers, former Prime Minister of the Netherlands.

Ruud Lubbers, former Prime Minister of the Netherlands
Recently, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) organised a symposium to celebrate the 80th birthday of Maurice Strong.

It was a reunion of friends who walked with him decades all the way from 1972 Stockholm and youngsters who today give shape and substance to his theme Environment and Development.

It was gratifying to see this happen in Gland at the IUCN, under the new leadership of Julia Marton-Lefèvre.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature was a remarkable initiative, bringing together governments/politics and scientists. And that same IUCN was the first to endorse the Earth Charter, pleaded for already in Our Common Future, but really starting as an initiative and movement as asked for by civil society (NGO’s) and indigenous people at the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (UNCED), also known as the Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1991.

In that last decade of last century, IUCN became convinced that the Earth Charter was needed. The Earth Charter for good reasons became comprehensive and global and concluded that governance needed to protect nature and humankind is only effective if there is partnership between governments, business and civil society.

It was almost symbolic that good old Maurice, still remarkably strong, came to Gland from Beijing, where he is now living and working.

Indeed, China represents the need and possibility to create a truly multi-polar world. The challenge for climate change and sustainable development is very much about China. Maurice Strong, Mikhail Gorbachev, Steven Rockefeller and myself, we invested enormously in the Earth Charter Initiative.

Last year, in 2008, we celebrated sixty years Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). In relation to that Inspiration for Global Governance, explaining the need to add to the UDHR, the Earth Charter, was published.

If one reflects on this history one reflects very much on Maurice Strong. He was Under Secretary General of the UN, but he went beyond the UN. He was and is as the Germans say a “macher”, someone, who is a mover and gets things done, but he became also a civil society man; a man of “we the people” and he is a firm believer, not only in “rights” but also in duties; but above all of the “joyful celebration of life”.

Ruud Lubbers, July 2009.