The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (also known as the Stockholm Conference) was an international conference convened under United Nations auspices held in Stockholm, Sweden from June 5-16, 1972. It was the UN’s first major conference on international environmental issues, and marked a turning point in the development of international environmental politics.
Stockholm represented a first taking stock of the global human impact on the environment, an attempt at forging a basic common outlook on how to address the challenge of preserving and enhancing the human environment. As a result, the Stockholm Declaration espouses mostly broad environmental policy goals and objectives rather than detailed normative positions. However, following Stockholm, global awareness of environmental issues increased dramatically, as did international environmental law-making proper. At the same time, the focus of international environmental activism progressively expanded beyond transboundary and global commons issues to media-specific and cross-sectoral regulation and the synthesizing of economic and development considerations in environmental decision-making.
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.
Some argue that 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.
Shortly after this conference, Radio Canada International produced a series of Documentaries on the State Of The Earth and the Stockholm Meetings on the Human Environment, featuring lectures and addresses by some of the worlds prominent scientists and social leaders in 1972.
In this episode – Number 7, the subject is The Role of The Scientist And Social Responsibility. Timely, ironic and frightening.
I’m planning on running the full series over the coming weeks and months – stick around.