Maurice Strong, the godfather of global environmentalism and organizer of the United Nations’ 1992 Rio environmental Earth Summit, is making a quiet comeback to the limelight on the eve of that meeting’s successor, the Rio + 20 summit on “sustainable development,” which starts June 20 in Brazil.
Strong, 82, has been taking part in a variety of conference side-events prior to the three-day meeting of some 130 top-level international leaders, part of a growing wave of hoopla and promotion that will climax at the summit leadership sessions. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is leading the U.S. delegation there.
His appearance at Rio + 20 is also the latest stage in a Long March through controversy that has kept Strong, a native Canadian who is widely deemed to be one of the key instigators of the global environmental movement, living a low-profile life in China for the past half-decade.
Now Strong is back on one of the stages where he feels most comfortable–a global U.N. conference on the environment–though the role he may play in the leaders’ sessions is not known. Questions sent by Fox News to the Rio + 20 conference organizers on Monday about his role had not been answered before this article was published.
Nonetheless, on Monday evening, Strong was introduced as a “very special guest of honor” at a “Corporate Sustainability Forum” organized by the U.N. Global Compact, a corporate group that has signed onto a variety of U.N. social and development goals. In a brief address, Strong lauded the assembled executives as “the most important meeting of Rio + 20,” and noted the number of corporate representatives attending from “the country where I live, which is called China.”