Environmentalist Maurice Strong has received the prestigious U Thant Award for his “lifelong commitment to the soaring ideals of the United Nations”, and his “reverence for our beautiful and bountiful Planet Earth.”

In receiving the award from Sri Chinmoy: The Peace Meditation at the United Nations, the Canadian leader joins a select group of luminaries that includes Mother Teresa, South Africa’s President Nelson Mandela, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, freedom fighter Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former Indian Ambassador to the US. Siddhartha Shankar Ray, and India’s High Commissioner to Great Britain, L M Singhvi. 

“I am overwhelmed to receive the honor that bears the name of U Thant and to receive it from the hands of Sri Chinmoy, who has been for so many years the custodian and guardian of the spiritual roots of the United Nations,” Strong declared.

''That combination makes this the greatest honor I could possibly imagine.”

Sri Chinmoy, the international peace advocate, presented Strong with the award May 2 at a ceremony held at the United Nations Church Centre, which was attended by about a hundred diplomats and staff members of the U.N. “You convincingly manifest the powerful truth that to unite humanity in the cause of preserving our Mother Earth is not only good, kind and necessary but also practical, profitable and fruitful, Sri Chinmoy told the Canadian leader, who was secretary general of the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development — known as The Earth Summit. Strong, who is currently advisor to the President to the World Bank, has, also been an Under Secretary General of the United Nations, first president of the Canadian International Development Agency, and Chairman and Chief Executive office of Ontario Hydro. The U Thant Peace Award, originated in 1982, goes to individuals whose life had furthered the cause of peace in the spirit of the late U Thant, who was the  U.N.’s third secretary general. It is presented by Sri Chinmoy: The Peace Meditation at the United Nations, an association of U.N. delegates, staff, NGO representatives and accredited press correspondents holding twice weekly peace meditations and other programs at U.N. headquarters.

Published in Asia Online Number 123, Volume II, May 20–May26, 1996