The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment was held in Stockholm, Sweden from June 5–16 in 1972.
When the United Nations General Assembly decided to convene the 1972 Stockholm Conference, taking up the offer of the Government of Sweden to host it,UN Secretary-General U Thant invited Maurice Strong to lead it as Secretary-General of the Conference, as the Canadian diplomat (under Pierre Trudeau) had initiated and already worked for over two years on the project.
The United Nations Environment Programme, or UNEP, was created as a result of this conference.
Sweden first suggested to the United Nations Economic and Social Council ECOSOC in 1968 the idea of having a UN conference to focus on human interactions with the environment. ECOSOC passed resolution 1346 supporting the idea. General Assembly Resolution 2398 in 1969 decided to convene a conference in 1972 and mandated a set of reports from the UN secretary-general suggesting that the conference focus on "stimulating and providing guidelines for action by national government and international organizations" facing environmental issues.Preparations for the conference were extensive, lasting 4 years, including 114 governments, and costing over $30,000,000.
The Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact nations boycotted the conference due to the lack of inclusion of East Germany, which was not allowed to participate as it was not a full member of the UN.
At the conference itself, divisions between developed and developing countries began to emerge. The Chinese delegation proved hostile to the United States at the conference, issuing a 17-point memorandum condemning United States policies in Indochina, as well as around the world. This stance emboldened other developing countries, which made up 70 of the 122 countries attending. Multiple countries including Pakistan, Peru, and Chile issued statements that were anti-colonial in nature, further worrying the United States delegation. So harsh was the criticism that Rogers Morton, at that time secretary of the interior, remarked "I wish the Russians were here", to divert the attention of the Chinese criticisms.
In 1972, environmental governance was not seen as an international priority, particularly for the Global South. Developing nations supported its creation of the UNEP, not because they supported environmental governance, but because of its headquarters' location in Nairobi, Kenya, as the UNEP would be the first UN agency to be based in a developing country.
The meeting agreed upon a Declaration containing 26 principles concerning the environment and development; an Action Plan with 109 recommendations, and a Resolution.
Principles of the Stockholm Declaration:
One of the seminal issues that emerged from the conference is the recognition for poverty alleviation for protecting the environment. The Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in her seminal speech in the conference brought forward the connection between ecological management and poverty alleviation.
The Stockholm Conference motivated countries around the world to monitor environmental conditions as well as to create environmental ministries and agencies.Despite these institutional accomplishments, including the establishment of UNEP, the failure to implement most of its action programme has prompted the UN to have follow-up conferences. The succeeding United Nations Conference on Environment and Development convened in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 (the Rio Earth Summit), the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg and the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) all take their starting point in the declaration of the Stockholm Conference.
Some arguethat this conference, and more importantly the scientific conferences preceding it, had a real impact on the environmental policies of the European Community (that later became the European Union). For example, in 1973, the EU created the Environmental and Consumer Protection Directorate, and composed the first Environmental Action Program. Such increased interest and research collaboration arguably paved the way for further understanding of global warming, which has led to such agreements as the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement, and has given a foundation of modern environmentalism.
Environmental law is a collective term encompassing aspects of the law that provide protection to the environment. A related but distinct set of regulatory regimes, now strongly influenced by environmental legal principles, focus on the management of specific natural resources, such as forests, minerals, or fisheries. Other areas, such as environmental impact assessment, may not fit neatly into either category, but are nonetheless important components of environmental law.
The United Nations Environment Programme is responsible for coordinating the UN's environmental activities and assisting developing countries in implementing environmentally sound policies and practices.
The World Summit on Sustainable Development 2002, took place in South Africa, from 26 August to 4 September 2002. It was convened to discuss [sustainable development] organizations, 10 years after the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) was established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to help tackle our planet's most pressing environmental problems. The GEF unites 183 countries in partnership with international institutions, civil society organizations (CSOs), and the private sector to address global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives. Since 1992, the GEF has provided close to $20.5 billion in grants and mobilized an additional $112 billion in co-financing for more than 4,800 projects in 170 countries. Through its Small Grants Programme (SGP), the GEF has provided support to nearly 24,000 civil society and community initiatives in 133 countries.
The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, often shortened to Rio Declaration, was a short document produced at the 1992 United Nations "Conference on Environment and Development" (UNCED), informally known as the Earth Summit. The Rio Declaration consisted of 27 principles intended to guide countries in future sustainable development. It was signed by over 175 countries.
Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants is an international environmental treaty, signed in 2001 and effective from May 2004, that aims to eliminate or restrict the production and use of persistent organic pollutants (POPs).
Environmental education (EE) refers to organized efforts to teach how natural environments function, and particularly, how human beings can manage behavior and ecosystems to live sustainably. It is a multi-disciplinary field integrating disciplines such as biology, chemistry, physics, ecology, earth science, atmospheric science, mathematics, and geography. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) states that EE is vital in imparting an inherent respect for nature amongst society and in enhancing public environmental awareness. UNESCO emphasises the role of EE in safeguarding future global developments of societal quality of life (QOL), through the protection of the environment, eradication of poverty, minimization of inequalities and insurance of sustainable development. The term often implies education within the school system, from primary to post-secondary. However, it sometimes includes all efforts to educate the public and other audiences, including print materials, websites, media campaigns, etc.. There are also ways that environmental education is taught outside the traditional classroom. Aquariums, zoos, parks, and nature centers all have ways of teaching the public about the environment.
The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) is an independent policy research institute whose stated mission is to "build a fairer, more sustainable world, using evidence, action and influence in partnership with others." Its director is Dr Andrew Norton.
The United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) is a high-level intergovernmental policy forum. The forum includes all United Nations member states and permanent observers, the UNFF Secretariat, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, Regional Organizations and Processes and Major Groups.
Proposals for the creation of a United Nations Environmental Organization (UNEO) have come as some question the efficacy of the current United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) at dealing with the scope of global environmental issues. Created to act as an anchor institution in the system of Global Environmental Governance (GEG), it has failed to meet those demands. The UNEP has been hindered by its title as a Programme as opposed to a Specialized agency like the WTO or WHO, in addition to a lack of voluntary funding, and a location removed from the centers of political power, in Nairobi, Kenya. These factors have led to widespread calls for UNEP reform, and following the publication of Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC in February 2007, a "Paris Call for Action" read out by French President Chirac and supported by 46 countries, called for the UNEP to be replaced by a new and more powerful United Nations Environment Organization, to be modelled on the World Health Organization. The 52 countries included the European Union nations, but notably did not include the United States and BRIC, the top five emitters of greenhouse gases.
Felix Dodds is an author, futurist and activist. Born as Michael Nicholas Dodds he took the name Felix Dodds when he was 18. He stood in Mid Derbyshire for the Liberal Democrats in the 2019 General Election. He has been instrumental in developing new modes of stakeholder engagement with the United Nations, particularly within the field of sustainable development. His latest book is Stakeholder Democracy: Represented Democracy in a Time of Fear. In 2019 he was the UK candidate to be the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme. Dodds was the Executive Director of Stakeholder Forum for a Sustainable Future from 1992–2012. He is probably best known as the author of How to Lobby at Intergovernmental Meetings: Mine is a Café Latte, written with co-author Michael Strauss.
The Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, or Stockholm Declaration, was adopted on June 16, 1972 by the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment at the 21st plenary meeting as the first document in international environmental law to recognize the right to a healthy environment. In the declaration, the nations agreed to accept responsibility for any environmental effects caused by their actions.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to sustainability:
Environmental adult education is recognized as a "hybrid outgrowth of the environmental movement and adult education, combining an ecological orientation with a learning paradigm to provide a vigorous educational approach to environmental concerns."
Environmental governance is a concept in political ecology and environmental policy that advocates sustainability as the supreme consideration for managing all human activities—political, social and economic. Governance includes government, business and civil society, and emphasizes whole system management. To capture this diverse range of elements, environmental governance often employs alternative systems of governance, for example watershed-based management.
Earth system governance is a recently developed paradigm that builds on earlier notions of environmental policy and nature conservation, but puts these into the broader context of human-induced transformations of the entire earth system.
The environmental movement has made considerable progress from the first Greenpeace protest involving six people and a boat in 1971, to the environmental conferences of today involving the world’s leaders and commanding global attention. Environmental mega conferences differ from small environmental and sustainability conferences in fundamental ways. Rather than focusing on specific regional problems such as acid rain or ‘sectoral’ problems such as human health or food, they try to take a synoptic overview of the relationship between human society and the natural world. They aim to; “firstly address the overall trajectory of human development and its relationship with the environment as a whole and secondly take a broader view of the complex environment and development issues over a longer time frame, as each summit is preceded by a number of pre-conferences”.
Ocean governance is the conduct of the policy, actions and affairs regarding the world's oceans. Within governance, it incorporates the influence of non-state actors, i.e. stakeholders, NGOs and so forth, therefore the state is not the only acting power in policy making. However, in terms of the ocean, this is a complex issue because it is a commons that is not ‘owned’ by any single nation/state. The consequences of this has resulted in humankind abusing the oceans’ resources, by treating them as shared resources, but not taking equal and collective responsibilities in caring for them. This means that rules on the conduct of the ocean can only be implemented through international agreements. Therefore, there is a need for some form of governance to maintain the ocean for its various uses, preferably in a sustainable manner.
Global Environmental Governance is the title of a book written by Adil Najam, Mihaela Papa and Nadaa Taiyab. All the information of this article comes from this book.
Björn-Ola Linnér is a Swedish climate policy scholar and professor at Linköping University. He is program director of Mistra Geopolitics, a research programme that critically examines and explores the interplay between the dynamics of geopolitics, human security, and global environmental change. He is also affiliated at the Institute for Science, Innovation and Society at Oxford University and the Stockholm Environment Institute.