After 18 years in Canada's Parliament - the final two as prime minister - he was named co-chair yesterday of a major European initiative to conserve Africa's Congo River Basin rain forest, the world's second-largest.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced the creation of the Congo Basin Forest Fund, with roughly equal contributions from Britain and Norway totalling $215-million.
The basin represents about a quarter of the planet's remaining rain forest cover, and the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization has estimated that deforestation is reducing its size annually by 940,000 hectares or roughly 1 per cent of its total. The loss is largely attributed to legal and illegal logging using unsustainable harvesting methods. The cutting of wood for fuel is also a factor.
Mr. Brown decided a year ago to create the fund after being approached by Kenyan environmental and political activist Wangari Muta Maathai, who in 2004 became the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.