Earth Council Leader Maximo Kalaw Dies of Cancer

NEW YORK, New York, November 5, 2001 (ENS) - Maximo "Junie" Kalaw, executive director of the Earth Council, has died. Born in the Philippines, he passed away on November 1 in New York after a long struggle with cancer.

In a joint statement today, Frans van Haren, CEO of the Costa Rica based Earth Council and Chairman Earth Council Foundation President Maurice Strong, said the name of Junie Kalaw "is synonymous with the concept of sustainable development in its appreciation to the interests and needs of people at the community and grassroots level."

For the last 30 years, they said, Kalaw dedicated "all of his energies and exceptional talents towards advancing and supporting the movement for sustainable development at the level of people, helping to amplify their voices and enlarge their opportunities for participation in the development processes and policies which affect their lives and their prospects."


Maximo "Junie" Kalaw at the IUCN World Conservation Congress, October 4, 2000 in Amman, Jordan. (Photo courtesy IISD/Linkages)
Kalaw first became known in the Philippines for his work as a director of the pioneering Haribon Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources, and with the Philippines Green Forum.

He was a leader of the International NGO Forum during the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992, which produced a series of Alternative Treaties independently of the governments who agreed on an environmental plan of action known as Agenda 21.

The Earth Council had its start at the Rio Earth Summit which was chaired by Strong. He conceptualized the council as a body that would ensure a strong and effective continuing role of civil society in the follow up to the Earth Summit and implementation of its results, particularly Agenda 21 and won the support of the government of Costa Rica to locate the new organization in San Jose.

After the Earth Summit, Kalaw joined in the establishment of the Earth Council and assumed the position of executive director in 1996.

Strong and van Haren, who worked closely with Kalaw in developing the Earth Council, said his activism was "rooted in his deep philosophical and spiritual nature from which he derived the values and ideals that were his compass in everything he undertook."

"As a gifted speaker and writer, he articulated persuasively the values and ideals that motivated him and gave practical effect to them in every aspect of his work," his colleagues said.

Kalaw served as executive director of the National Council for Sustainable Development Programme of the Earth Council. The Earth Summit recommended the active participation of citizens along with governments in implementation of the Rio agreements. Since then, 80 countries have established some form of a multi-stakeholder participatory body, referred to as National Councils for Sustainable Development (NCSDs), to promote and implement sustainable development at the national level.

"His primary interest and special focus was always on peopleís involvement at the community and grassroots level, and following the first signs of his illness he dedicated himself exclusively to the Earth Councilís work in advancing and supporting National Councils for Sustainable Development," said Strong and van Haren.

"We know that in his last days," they said, "Junie derived a great deal of solace and satisfaction from the progress that the NCSDs have made and the capacity they have now developed to play an increasingly important role in the sustainable development movement, nationally, regionally and globally.

Kalaw articulated his goals in his address to the Fifth Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development on April 11, 1997. "Global agreements and global sustainability policy must be supportive of local and national sustainability goals," he said. "These must underlie any and all efforts in building regional cooperation and global governance systems."