More than any other person in the UN system, Strong had been the driving force to put environmental action on the “world agenda” for both governments and NGOs. For Strong, to protect the earth’s environment, its biodiversity and life support system was a cause for cooperative action to transform society—a cause for which government and business leaders could rise above their disagreements and act together to protect the planet.
Before a topic becomes the focus of the world agenda, there is a good deal of intellectual preparation needed, and it usually begins outside of governments. Kenneth Boulding, a Quaker, economist, and peace researcher started writing what is now called “ecological economics.” Boulding helped develop the concept of “Spaceship Earth,” stressing the need to modify education in light of ecological realities. He wrote,
…the principal task of education in this day is to convey from one generation to the next a rich image of the total earth, that is, the idea of the earth as a total system…What formal education has to do is to produce people who are fit to be inhabitants of the planet.