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Tribute to Maurice F. Strong (1929 – 2015)

 “We are victims of ‘the struggle between ecosystems and egosystems’.
It is the egos of people, governments, businesses that prevent solutions and generate a terrible lack of political will.

 

Maurice F. Strong speech at the Earth Charter+5
November 2005, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

 

Earth Charter International mourns the passing of Maurice F. Strong, co-chair of the Earth Charter Commission. All of us involved in the sustainability movement share special feelings of gratitude and admiration for the unique role he played and brilliant leadership he provided over many years in the global process of social transformation.

As the Secretary General of the 1992 Earth Summit, founder of UNEP, The Earth Council, The Earth Charter Initiative and many other great movements, he was able to significantly influence historical changes, proven by the numerous conventions and international policies that emerged on the environment and sustainability over the past 30 years. At the turn of the century, Koffi Annan invited him to take on the task of revitalizing the University for Peace, to which he dedicated all his efforts as the Rector and the chair of the Council for several years.

As a member of the Brundtland Commission and Secretary General of the Earth Summit in 1992, Mr. Strong took on the commitment to carry the idea of an Earth Charter forward (which was a recommendation made in the Brundtand Commission Report and according to him an unfinished piece of business of the Rio Earth Summit). Therefore, in 1994, together with Mikhail Gorbachev he launched the Earth Charter Initiative and became the co-Chair of the International Commission.

We would like to stress his unique ability to communicate with people from all walks of life and his tireless commitment and vision towards elevating the voices of non-state actors in the international policy arena. The fact that Agenda 21 has a whole section on The Role of Major Groups, which has subsequently opened up many possibilities, is in great part due to his capacity to envision a new multi-stakeholder process of decision making.

In light of the opening of COP21, it seems appropriate to take a moment to reflect on some of the messages he used to convey:

“We know what we should do; science and technology can help us to do it. We know the solutions and we know what to do in the future. But we are not doing it. We are not able to make the transition to a sustainable way of life. Moral, ethical and spiritual responsibility hangs on today’s generation and emerging generations. We must reach into the hearts and souls of all people, and work with them for what we all want: a healthy whole community, happy children, and a secure life on Earth.”

 

Maurice F. Strong, Earth Charter+5 Event,
November 2005, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Following in his footsteps, we would like to move ahead with determination and a deep sense of intergenerational commitment to carry forward the great work that he started and that we still have ahead of us, which is to continue to influence the process of changing the development model through the awakening of a new global consciousness.

We want to express our condolences and sentiments to his family, friends, and past colleagues and above all remember and celebrate his life with gratitude.

Earth Charter International Secretariat and Council

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“I want to thank Mr. Strong for everything he has done. A leader is someone who has a vision to make things better and dedicates all possible efforts to make it happen gathering the cooperation of many. A leader is able to communicate that vision well, inspire and engage many, and influence processes of change. Mr. Strong did that in an outstanding way. I feel deep admiration, respect, and gratitude to him for his consistency over the years, for his vision, and life dedication to address the world´s environmental challenges and make sustainability a reality.”

Mirian Vilela, Executive Director, Earth Charter International

“We have read with sadness and empathy of the passing of Maurice. We are all indebted to his leadership on environmental issues these many years.
May his work live on! We send our prayers and deepest sympathy to his family.”

Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim
Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology

Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau’s statement.

Al Gore’s statement.

UNEP statement.

The Guardian article, Maurice Strong: A Sustainable Life by Felix Dodds

The New York Times article AP, UN: Maurice Strong, Climate and Development Pioneer, Dies

A tribute from Ronald Leger.

Please, feel free to leave a tribute message of your own in the comment section below.

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ECI hosts final EC+15 webinar of 2015

On November 17th, Earth Charter International was joined by Nigel Dower, a senior academic specializing in the ethics and philosophy of development, environment, and international relations, and by Prue Taylor, an expert in environmental law and ethics for the last webinar of ECI’s EC+15 celebrations. The webinar was titled “The Way Forward: Earth Community and Global Citizenship”. This webinar finished a very important year for sustainable development and international relations. 2015 saw the agreement to the Sustainable Development Goals, strong ethical statements including the Pope’s Encyclical, and the webinar was aired only days before the beginning of the Paris COP21 Climate talks.

Nigel Dower focused his segment on global citizenship and broke down the concept and discussed the way people construct global identities and to what degree these are deep or shallow. He discussed the different ways one can be a member of a community including moral, legal, and political associations, among others. He continued on to talk about global ethics and relate that to the Earth Charter. He praised the value of the Earth Charter as a valid expression of global ethics and mentioned several of its core values that support that global ethic within the framework of the climate negotiations including valuing non-human life, the importance of sustainable livelihoods, and the vision of living fully.

Prue Taylor’s discussion began with her thoughts on the Earth Charter and then moved into a related discussion on the idea of the commons and its power to help shape changing worldviews and international policy discourse. She continued to explore the importance of the commons concept and link it to the values found in the Earth Charter. She continued on to speak about how these values are playing out at the international policy level in relation to the climate change talks and she also mentioned the importance of the emerging ethical statements by religious leaders and movements. Prue finished with a short summary of findings from a recent IUCN publication that she worked on titled “Ethics and Climate Change: A Study of National Commitments” and explained how morally weak most of these commitments are. She urged individuals to take a stronger moral stand and analyze ethically the implications of governments’ decisions regarding issues such as climate change.

 The question and answer that followed was engaged and interesting.

ECI is very thankful to both Nigel and Prue as well as all the other speakers and participants throughout the year who have made EC+15 a special year in celebrating the emerging paradigm of which the Earth Charter and the Earth Charter movement are a part.

You can see the replay here and download the speakers’ presentations as PDFs below.

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Earth Charter International partners for climate change theater production

The Little Theatre Group of San Jose, Costa Rica, with the support of Earth Charter International, recently participated in an international Climate Change Theatre Action with more than 100 other groups around the world to raise awareness through the art of theatre on the issue of climate change before the Conference of Parties in Paris (COP21) at the end of November 2015. ECI was inspired to join the effort by the Earth Charter principle 14 b., which states, “Promote the contribution of the arts and humanities as well as the sciences in sustainability education.”

The Climate Change Theatre Action was a joint initiative among three organizations, NoPassport, The Arctic Cycle, and Theatre without Borders. Together, they organized this global Climate Change Theatre Action and more than 100 groups in more than 20 countries are participating, joining the Little Theatre Group and Earth Charter International.

The production by the Little Theatre Group was titled “Nature Acts”, adapted from a quotation by Voltaire, “Men argue, nature acts”. The performance consisted of both thought provoking and humorous monologues and short plays performed by actors of the Little Theatre Group and by actors from the University for Peace community. The production sold out all three of its shows and more than 100 members of the audience learned about the Earth Charter and took home messages about the importance of climate change action and sustainability.

Find out more here.

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Earth Charter Affiliate in the Netherlands publishes book in English

Brigitte van Baren, Earth Charter Affiliate with InnerSense of the Netherlands, and Johannes Witteveen, former Dutch Finance Minister and former Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, have collaborated on a book called “Heart for the Earth, Heart for Yourself”. Professor Witteveen is a scholar of Sufism and is still engaged in the Sufi movement. Brigitte van Baren is a Zen teacher, coach, and author. The book was launched in Dutch in September and the electronic English version is available after November 23rd, in advance of the Paris COP21 Climate Conference.

Find more information in the attached press release.
Press release Heart for the earth

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