Christian de Laet

Co-founder of Development Alternatives


Dr. Christian de Laet (1927 – 2008), an environmental pioneer and grassroots activist, was the Co-Founder of the Development Alternatives Group.

During his lifetime, he worked closely with Ashok Khosla in the birth and early years of formation of the Development Alternatives Group. The truly interdisciplinary and trans-cultural nature of the organisation was a result of the influence of Dr. Christain de Laet.

Christian had a profound capacity to look ahead with understanding as well as vision and an unusual ability to communicate with others. He had a deep understanding of the world’s cultures and systemic inter-relationships of the human, natural and spiritual worlds and a solid scientific grounding. This gave him an uncanny ability to design out-of box approaches to many of the environmental challenges that face the world today, blending scientific thought and re-interpreting traditional knowledge systems and folk cultures

.Born in Belgium in 1927, he studied advanced mathematics at the EcolesSpeciales of the University of Louvain, in 1944, and engineering at thePolytechnical School of the University of Brussels in 1945.

Christian made Montreal, Canada, his home in 1949, where he first got a job as a young mathematician. He spent the better part of his life travellingacross the world, from the Canadian prairies to Papua New Guinea, tryingto understand the global environment and humans' place within it. TheIndian experience was critical to his achieving a better and more profoundunderstanding of the role of the individual `self' in a globalised world. Hewas multi-lingual and spoke French, Flemish, German and Englisgh.During the course of his life, he has also learned Italian, Spanish, andRussian, as well as, eventually, Hindi.

In 1964, Christian de Laet was elected the first secretary-general of the Canadian Council of Resources and Environment Ministers (CCREM). In the years following the UN Stockholm Conference of 1972, Christian de Laet became a consultant to INGOs, as well as IGOs, and specialised UN agencies such as WHO, UNESCO, UNU, UNEP and UN/ESCAP. Christian de Laet was honoured, in 1990, on Parliament Hill on Canada's National Day, named as the Canadian Environment Achiever for both his national and international work