At the panel discussion on Means of Implementation for Sustainable Development at the Special United Nations General Assembly event on October 25, Maurice Strong, the keynote speaker for the event, described the attention given to environmental issues as a ‘recession in political will’. Maurice Strong was the Secretary-General of the first UN Conference on the Human Environment, the Stockholm Conference in 1972 as well as the Secretary-General of the1992 Rio Earth Summit. He was also the first Executive Director of UNEP from 1972 to 1975. With the next major UN environmental summit scheduled for June 2012 – the Rio+20 Conference, Maurice Strong’s views are timely and compelling.
Cognizant of the evolution of state interests in international environmental action, Maurice Strong feared that the consequences from the downward shift would be “far more damaging for the human future than the more immediate issues that gave rise to it.” He stressed the need to deal with environmental concerns “as the most dangerous security issue humanity has ever faced, with the very conditions necessary to life on Earth at risk.” Mr. Strong stated that Rio+20 must be seen as a unique opportunity to change the way activities are managed and their impact on Earth’s sustainability and that greater cooperation is imperative. The change of course requires radical changes in the current economic system and called for, in particular the western countries, to lead the change.
Maurice Strong stressed that Rio+20 must endorse and be grounded in the Earth Charter, embracing its moral and ethical principles.Recalling the concept of shared but differentiated responsibilities; Mr. Strong stressed the need for it to be strongly reinforced at the conference.
He pointed out a number of actions, which would make Rio+20 a milestone including,
- establishment of a process of assessment of each country’s past commitments, further leading to a system where countries failing to meet commitments would be subject to penalties and sanctions
- establishing earth bonds as a form of investment instrument for sustainable development projects
- establishing a system where victims of environmental damage can seek legal recourse and compensation
- clarify and strengthen the role of UNEP by agreeing to accord it the status of a specialized agency’, which could lead to the establishment of a World Environment Organization
Mr. Strong also addressed the possibility of providing a new mandate to the Trusteeship Council, which would turn it into a Council on Sustainable Development. He urged Rio+20 to give key role recognition and a strong voice in policy and implementation to cities, as they play an important role in the field of environment. Mr. Strong concluded with stating ‘we cannot afford failure, the security and sustainability of life on earth depends on our success, if our actions at Rio+20 are too little they will surely be too late.’
To see Mr.Strong’s full remarks click here.
To see summary of the event click here.
See Mr. Strong in the GEG Project’s Quest for Leadership documentary
Mr. Strong was a participant in the GEG Glion Forum in 2009.