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“Green” was part of my life as from the end of the sixties of last century.

Those days I was a citizen of the port-city Rotterdam and as a father of three children

I was struck by the challenge how to combine economic growth with quality of life.

My connection with Mikhail Gorbachev begins with the effort to contribute to “not another escalation in the Cold War because of intermediate nuclear forces”.

Although for history writers this was about Reykjavik, Reagan and Gorbachev and – rightly so – for me it was key in my 12 years Prime Minister-ship (1982-1994) in the Netherlands.

This connected me with a new world, including former President Gorbachev, becoming after the end of the Cold War and of the USSR, President of Green Cross, and making a plea for an Earth Charter.

While in those days, I was still Prime Minister, and I supported Maurice Strong (in 1992), who was chairing the Rio de Janeiro as an Under Secretary-General of the UN (the UNCED), to develop an Earth Charter.

At that point in history, I was informed about the “new” Gorbachev, and his plan as well for an Earth Charter.   

Therefore, I invited former President Gorbachev, those days still with his Raisa, to The Hague to agree there on a joint effort for a civil society document: the Earth Charter.

We, this means the two co-chairs Maurice Strong and Michael Gorbachev, myself and all the other Earth Charter Commissioners met for a long, intensive dialogue with Civil Society. Steven Rockefeller, yes, from the famous capitalist family, but himself a Professor in Ethics played a crucial role.

In 2000 we concluded on the Earth Charter; and an on-going Earth Charter Initiative, now with a focus on education, and a UNESCO-chair on the premises of U-Peace San José, Costa Rica.

In the meantime the Green Cross, now already for many years taking advantage of the guidance of Alexander Likhotal, did much more than the Earth Charter.
It went on to “modernize” its contribution to humankind in modernity, focusing on 5 programs: water, energy, value change, social and medical, and environmental security and sustainability.

All the way from “Our Common Future” (Gro Harlem Brundtland) to the Sustainable Development Goals, I have observed the Civil Society contribution, including the Green Cross as well, as the modernization of “Business,” all the way through to Corporate Social Responsibility. From 2000, there was the Global Compact, and later on the Charter of Compassion. We have seen time and again new initiatives; and in all this I observe a vibrant Green Cross.

Congratulations, and amid all the misery and challenges, I wish you “a joyful celebration of life”.

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