Stockholm conference: 1972
The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (also known as the Stockholm Conference) was the first major conference on
environmental issues held in Stockholm, Sweden from June 5-16, 1972 under auspices of the United Nations and it was a turning point in the development of international environmental politics. It is widely recognized as the beginning of modern political and public awareness of global environmental problems.
The conference was opened to discuss the state of the global environment, which was attended by the representatives of 113 countries, 19 inter-governmental agencies, and more than 400 inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations.
The meeting agreed upon a declaration containing 26 principles concerning the environment and development, an Action Plan with 109 recommendations and a resolution.
One of the key issues addressed at the conference was the use of CFCs, which seemed to be responsible for the depletion of the ozone layer. Global warming was mentioned, but in this matter nothing of substance was achieved at this Conference.
Apart from increasing awareness of environmental issues among public and governments, the Stockholm Conference laid framework for future environmental cooperation led to the creation of global and regional environmental monitoring networks and the creation of the United Nations Environment Programme.
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. 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.
Rio Conference: 1992
Since 1990, the international community has convened 12 major conferences to address some of the most pressing problems facing the world today and these high profile meetings have achieved a global consensus on the priorities for a new development agenda for the 1990s and beyond.
This continuum of conferences represents a remarkable achievement for the UN system. Through the conference process the entire international community has come together to agree on shared values, on shared goals and on strategies to achieve them.
Rio conference at a glance
Conference: United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), Rio de Janeiro, 3-14 June 1992
Informal name: The Earth Summit
Number of govts participating: 172 (108 at level of heads of state or govt.) Organizer: UNCED secretariat
Principal theme: Environment and sustainable development
NGO presence: Some 2,400 representatives NGOs
» Agenda 21 : a comprehensive programme of action for global action in all areas of sustainable development
» Rio Declaration on Environment and Development : a series of principles defining the rights and responsibilities of states » Statement of Forest Principles: a set of principles to underlie the sustainable management of forests worldwide
Two legally binding Conventions aimed at preventing global climate change and the eradication of the diversity of biological species were:
» UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and
» UN Convention on Biological Diversity
The Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro was unprecedented for a UN conference, in terms of both its size and the scope of its concerns. Twenty years after the first global environment conference, the UN sought to help Governments rethink economic development and find ways to halt the destruction of irreplaceable natural resources and pollution of the planet.
The Earth Summit influenced all subsequent UN conferences, which have examined the relationship between human rights, population, social development, women and human settlements and the need for
environmentally sustainable development.
Johannesburg conference: 2002
The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), held in
Johannesburg during 26 August and 4 September 2002, was the biggest event of its kind organised by the United Nations to date.
A major objective of the WSSD was to set out strategies for greater and more effective implementation of Agenda 21.
The Johannesburg Declaration was the main outcome of the Summit; however, there were several other international agreements.
The Johannesburg Declaration was adopted at the Summit at which the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development was agreed upon.
The Declaration builds on earlier declarations made at the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment at Stockholm in 1972, and the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
It is an agreement to focus particularly on “the worldwide conditions that pose severe threats to the sustainable development of our people, which include: chronic hunger; malnutrition; foreign occupation; armed conflict; illicit drug problems; organized crime; corruption; natural disasters; illicit arms trafficking; trafficking in persons; terrorism; intolerance and incitement to racial, ethnic, religious and other hatreds; xenophobia; and endemic, communicable and chronic diseases, in particular HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.”
Copenhagen conference: 2009
The United Nations Climate Change Conference, commonly known as the Copenhagen Summit, was held in Copenhagen, Denmark, between 7 and 18 December 2009.
The conference included the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 5th Meeting of the Parties (MOP 5) to the Kyoto Protocol.