James (Jim) MacNeill – April 22, 1928 – March 5, 2016
This past March, Ottawa lost a giant, one of our most influential leaders in the environmental sector, and an all-around great human being. Jim MacNeill died after a short battle with pneumonia, surrounded by family, in Ottawa.
You may not have heard of Jim MacNeill, but he has shaped the world we live in today. If you search the internet for definitions of “sustainable development”, you will see one quote over and over again:
“Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
This landmark definition of what is now a common idea first appeared in 1987, within the Brundtland Commission’s report ‘Our Common Future’. Jim was the Secretary General of the World Commission on Environment and Development (Brundtland Commission) and was the chief architect and principal author of ‘Our Common Future’. This report set a new global agenda for sustainable development and is considered to be one of the most influential reports for modern day sustainability. Jim clearly understood that equality and environmentalism are not opposed interests but are in fact inextricably linked. He knew this clearly 40 years ago; the world has only begun to catch up.
Jim dedicated his life towards the idea of sustainable development and environmental protection and was among the first architects of the sustainable development movement before this notion became mainstream. Actually, it was Jim and his wife Phyllis that created the term ‘sustainable development’. His achievements are many and he played a major role in bringing nations together around the environment. Jim led much of Canada’s substantive preparations for the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, and the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements, in Vancouver 1976. The Brundtland Commissions report ‘Our Common Future’ led to what became the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio (the Earth Summit). In 1999, Jim became the Chairman of the World Bank’s Independent Inspection Panel.
Jim was a true international public servant, but above all he was a great husband, father, grandfather and friend. His family is honouring Jim’s legacy by making a donation to Ecology Ottawa in his name so we can give away 1,500 trees.
These trees will be given away at, among other places:
Sept 21 – Health Trees Healthy City
Sept 24, Oct 1, 8, and 15th – TreeFest Ottawa
Nov 13 – Ecology Ottawa Eco Gala
For more information about Jim MacNeill’s life, please visit these links:
If you would like to honour the memory of a loved one or celebrate an important date in the same way as Jim MacNeills family, please contact Velta Tomsons: email@example.com