28 Apr 2014 Press release

Maurice F. Strong, UNEP's First Executive Director, Celebrates his 85th Birthday

Nairobi, 29 April 2014 - The Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Achim Steiner, today, offered his warmest congratulations to former Executive Director Maurice Strong on the occasion of his 85th birthday.

Maurice Strong has been one of the most influential voices for the environment and was instrumental in catalyzing political action in the lead up to the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment.

In a letter to Mr. Strong, Mr. Steiner said, "Throughout your career and life you have driven forward the pursuit of humanity to thrive on Planet Earth, linking and intertwining the three threads of sustainable development in terms of the economic, social and environmental dimensions."

"Even at a stage in your life when most people would lean back and contemplate retirement, you continued to dedicate your time to be actively engaged in China, where its leaders and citizens, just as in many other parts of the world, hold you in the highest esteem for your leadership and vision on environmental sustainability."

"As you look back upon your life and celebrate your 85th birthday with friends and family, let me take this opportunity to join so many others to celebrate you for having inspired and molded this generation and the next in moving towards a new understanding and ethic of how we live together on earth in harmony with each other and with nature," he added.

Mr. Strong was appointed to lead the Conference on the Human Environment, held in Stockholm, Sweden, in June 1972. From that historic event - the UN's first major conference on international environmental issues - the UN Environment Programme was conceived.

Six months later, Mr. Strong was elected by the UN General Assembly to take the helm of the newly formed environmental agency, which would move from Geneva to its new Nairobi Headquarters in 1973.

Mr. Strong served as UNEP's first Executive Director until 1975. He later served as commissioner of The World Commission on Environment and Development in 1986.

In June 1992, he was asked to lead another landmark meeting: The UN Conference on Environment and Development - best known as The Earth Summit - which was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Following that, Mr. Strong continued to take a leading role in implementing the results of Rio through the establishment of The Earth Council, the Earth Charter movement, his chairmanship of The World Resources Institute, his membership on the Board of the International Institute for Sustainable Development, The Stockholm Environment Institute, The African-American Institute, The Institute of Ecology in Indonesia, The Beijer Institute of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and others.

Throughout his professional career, Mr. Strong continued to demonstrate an unflagging commitment to the principles and ideals of environmental protection, first established by governments in Stockholm in 1972.

He has also served as Senior Advisor to the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20).