Maurice F. Strong's Last Conference Speech in China (Part I)
2018/2/24 14:00:00 本站

(Editor's note:) Currently CBCGDF is helping with a book tributes to and reminiscences of Maurice F. Strong, which is under preparation and will be published shortly by the European Centre for Peace and Development (ECPD). We deeply cherish the memory of Mr. Strong, and hope that the public will participate and help us to collect information and write memories.

Maurice F. Strong, a world-class environmentalist who was active in the international environmental community for years. He was actively advocating the establishment of World Environment University (WEU) during his lifetime and discussed this matter with Dr. Zhou Jinfeng the SG of CBCGDF many times. In China, Mr. Strong has done a great deal of assistance in the development and implementation of the Climate Change Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, including the establishment of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).


Here shares a speech by Mr. Strong at 2013 Asia Education Forum General Conference & Ecological Education and Sustainable Development Forum, in Chengdu, on October 25th, 2013. It is the last time Mr. Strong attended a speech at China's domestic conference:


Education the Key to a Sustainable World


The unsustainable nature of our current economic system was dramatically revealed by both the climate change and the environmental economic crises. They are inextricably linked in a systemic, integrated basis and cannot be managed as separate and competing issues.


The climate change challenge requires us to make changes in the fundamental nature and functioning of our educational economic system and resist the temptation merely to patch up the existing system to enable to continue, however, temporally, on the pathway that led to its crisis. Only through fundamental change can we transcend these crises and rebuild the economic and social foundations of our civilization to ensure its survival and sustainability.


Throughout human history, civilizations have risen and fallen, often due to mismanagement of their environment and the resources on which they depended. The consequences were clearly devastating for those affected, but there was always somewhere else for them to go. The climate change crisis is fundamentally different because it is global in scale and affects the survival and sustainability of all nations and people. It is also different in that we know its causes and probable consequences.


We are the first generation ever to have the responsibility for our own future. What we do, or fail to do, will determine the future of life on Earth. This requires unprecedented levels of cooperation both within and amongst nations. But it does not require homogeneity in our life styles or cultures. We can learn from nature that the healthiest and more sustainable natural ecological systems are those which maintain the highest degree of diversity and variety.


While the fundamental changes I believe must take place at the level of individual people as well as nations it promises to produce improved conditions of life and a more secure and sustainable future for all people. It is instructive to reflect that the conditions required for sustaining life as we know it have only existed for a small portion of its history and within relatively narrow parameters. Our very existence is now at risk and its future is literally in our own hands. We have the knowledge and capacity to ensure our survival. The real question is do we have the will to make the fundamental changes that this requires. Chengdu is well positioned to take this lead in this.


In the more than quarter century since the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1972 put the environment issue on the global agenda, the concept of the environment has been broadened to encompass the wide range of economic, social, biological and climatic conditions that affect the quality and the sustainability of life on Earth. It is within this larger contest that the WEU has been conceived.


In recent times, there has been a great expansion of environmental education and research and many universities and institutes now have extensive programs in addressing these issues. Some like notably in China is the Peking University with which I am privileged to be associated.


Nevertheless, no single institution has yet emerged as the center of the network of universities and organizations that have their own important programs. All value their autonomy, but most would be willing in exchange of information, experience and support cooperation. The proposed World Environment University would be designed to provide significant support and services to meet this need while at the same time developing a core program of its own.


The World Environment University was conceived as a network of cooperating universities and institutes which together provide the most authoritative source of research, knowledge and educational capabilities in environmental and related matters. Chengdu is well positioned to take a lead in this process.


It is proposed that the WEU concentrate initially on programs at the Masters level and gradually at the Doctors level. Most universities and institutes that are part of the WEU network will already have undergraduate or similar courses in the areas in which they undertake their WEU programs. These programs would also be expected to include short specialized courses.


The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is a principal source of advice and cooperation in developing the programs of the WEU and with its many member organizations would provide extensive access to faculty and students.


(Maurice F. Strong and Dr. Zhou Jinfeng)

by/Niu Jingmei