Jim MacNeill (BA’49, BE’58, honorary LLD’88) returned to Saskatoon and the University of Saskatchewan January 17 and 18 as this year’s distinguished lecturer at the College of Engineering’s C.J. Mackenzie Gala of Engineering Excellence.
Known as one of Canada’s first environmentalists, one of MacNeill’s most significant contributions was when he was the secretary general of the World Commission on Environment and Development (a.k.a. the Brundtland Commission) in the mid-1980s. He was the principal author of the commission’s world-acclaimed report, Our Common Future. The report was presented to the UN General Assembly in 1987 and established the concept of sustainable development.
At the gala, MacNeill spoke to a crowd of over 500 people about the need for balanced sustainable growth and the vital role engineers have in responsible development and stewardship of the environment.
While visiting campus, MacNeill met with Howard Wheater, director of the Global Institute for Water Security. MacNeill helped develop Lake Diefenbaker and its parks through the development of the Gardiner Dam. The institute has established a long-term research program at Lake Diefenbaker that aims to understand current and future vulnerability of water quality and aquatic ecosystems.
U of S President Ilene Busch-Vishniac and Toddi Steelman, executive director of the School for Environment and Sustainability (SENS) also met with MacNeill during his U of S visit.
With the water institute, SENS, the newly announced Global Institute for Food Security and expertise across campus, the U of S is well positioned to be an innovative leader in sustainable development and find viable solutions to many problems across the globe.
MacNeill is an Officer of the Order of Canada, and has received several awards in recognition of his contributions, including the Lifetime Achievement Award of Environment Canada, the WASA Environmental Award from the King of Sweden, the City of Paris Silver Medal, and the Saskatchewan Order of Merit.