by Ernest Corea, who has served as Sri Lanka’s ambassador to the US, and High Commissioner in Canada. He is a member of the editorial board of InDepth NewsAnalysis, Berlin to which he is a regular contributor.

Ernest Corea
Maurice Strong is an inspirational figure whose influence extends far beyond his home country. Catching up with him via the Internet after a break has been a happy development; yet another example of the versatility of information technology.

Maurice was a guiding force behind the creation of two innovative institutions: the Ottawa-based International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). I was privileged to work at both institutions, and saw at first hand the impact on development of Maurice Strong’s prescience.

Pierre Trudeau wrote in “The Canadian Way” that among his country’s notable successes “perhaps the most illustrious was the creation and the performance of the IDRC, conceived by Maurice Strong.”

By supporting developing country scientists to carry out their research in terms of their own assessments, priorities, and capabilities, IDRC became an especially caring instrument of development. A scientist from the South called IDRC “one of the world’s finest models of effective international cooperation.”

The CGIAR, currently going through a period of transformation, was a consortium of donors who brought the best in agricultural science to bear on the nexus of problems connected with poverty, hunger, and the environment.

Moving further along in the development field, Maurice’s ability to persuade statesmen, policymakers, and the corporate sector that environmental protection and growth are, potentially, partners and not enemies is perhaps his strongest and most important intervention. It certainly influenced my own attitudes, and writing. For those of us from the South who got to know Maurice well, the experience has been both a privilege and a pleasure. He is, apart from being a leader, “a great guy".