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Stockholm+50

  • 02 Jun 2022
  • 10 min read

For Prelims: Stockholm Declaration, Climate Change, Paris Agreement, Sustainable Development, United Nations, UNEP, UNFCCC, UNCCD, CBD

For Mains: Stockholm Declaration & its Aftermath, Challenges and the Way Forward

Why in News?

Stockholm+50 is being held in Stockholm, Sweden. It will commemorate the 50 years since the 1972 United Nations (UN) Conference on the Human Environment (also known as the Stockholm Conference).

  • The UN General Assembly will be convening this international meeting.
  • This is being held at a time when the world is facing a triple planetary crisis of climate change, pollution and waste, nature and biodiversity loss, as well as other planetary issues even after 50 years of the Stockholm Declaration. This is threatening the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • A sustainable recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic will also remain as one of agenda points.

What is Stockholm Conference, 1972?

  • Background:
    • Climate change was first discussed using emerging scientific evidence in the UN General Assembly in 1968.
      • In 1967, a research study provided the actual estimates of global temperature based on CO2 levels. Also, it was predicted that the doubling of CO2 from the current level would result in nearly 2°C rise in global temperature.
    • The idea of the Stockholm Conference was first proposed by Sweden. That’s why it's also termed the “Swedish Initiative”.
  • About:
    • The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm was held from 5th –16th June, 1972.
    • This was the first global convergence on the planetary environment.
    • The theme was ‘Only One Earth’.
    • 122 countries participated in the conference.
  • Aim:
    • Creating a common governance framework for the planetary environment and natural resources.
  • Stockholm Declaration and Action Plan for the Human Environment
    • Stockholm Declaration:
      • 70 out of 122 participant countries which were developing and poor countries adopted the Stockholm Declaration.
      • The Stockholm Declaration contained 26 principles that marked the beginning of a dialogue between developed and developing countries.
      • This built the “interconnections between development, poverty and the environment”.
    • Action Plan:
      • The Action Plan contained three main categories that were further broken down into 109 recommendations:
        • Global Environmental Assessment Programme (watch plan)
        • Environmental management activities
        • International measures to support assessment and management activities carried out at the national and international levels.
  • Three Dimension of the Conference:
    • Countries agreed to not “harm each other’s environment or the areas beyond national jurisdiction”.
    • An action plan to study the threat to Earth’s environment.
    • Establishment of an international body called the UN Environment programme (UNEP) to bring in cooperation among countries.

What were the key agreements of the Stockholm Declaration?

  • Natural resources such as air, water, land, flora and fauna must be safeguarded through careful planning for the benefit of the present and future generations.
  • The release of toxic substances and heat emissions should not be allowed to exceed the capacity of the environment.
  • The poor and developing nations must be supported in their struggle against pollution.
  • The environmental policies of the states should support the present or future development potential of developing countries.
  • Appropriate steps should be taken by States and international organisations to reach an agreement on meeting the possible national and international economic consequences resulting from the application of environmental measures.
  • According to the UN charter and principles of international law, the States have the sovereign right to exploit their own resources as per their own environmental policies.
    • However, the states have this responsibility of making sure that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause any harm to the environment of other States or of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.

What is the importance of Stockholm, 1972?

  • The first global conference on the environment happened when the environment was not a global concern or a subject of importance for any nation.
  • Previously, the UN charter never contained the domain of environment to deal with.
  • No country had an environment ministry until 1972.
    • Afterwards, countries like Norway and Sweden set up their ministries for the environment.
    • In 1985, India set up its ministry of environment and forest.
  • After 1972, environmental issues like species extinction and mercury poisoning started making headlines and public consciousness increased.
  • The Stockholm conference started the contemporary “environmental era”.
  • Many of today's conventions on the environmental crises trace their origin to the Stockholm Declaration.

What are the Challenges?

  • Since the very beginning, global politics impacted the conference adversely.
  • Some nations expressed their concerns regarding the dominance of rich countries and said that the policies are more in the interests of wealthier, industrialised countries.
  • An uncoordinated response from the nations has contributed to the fact that the world is on track to warm at least 3˚C above pre-industrial levels by 2100. This is twice the 1.5˚C warming as mandated in the Paris Agreement.
  • Within the next 50 years, 1-3 billion people are projected to be left outside the climate conditions.
  • Poverty is the biggest hurdle in the way of adopting sustainable measures for a healthy environment, as poverty can’t be eradicated without the use of science and technology.
  • Unless the poor or developing countries are in a position to provide employment and meet daily necessities of the people, the policies towards sustainable environment can’t be implemented appropriately.

Way Forward

  • Majority of the world needs to understand that ecology and conservation will not work against their interests. Instead, this will bring an improvement in their lives.
  • The industrialised nations are basically worried about air and water pollution, whereas developing nations are hoping for assistance to eradicate poverty without causing ecosystem damage.
  • Therefore, measures for environment protection must be adopted ensuring the upliftment of developing countries’ economies.
  • As the time is already running out, it is a high time for Stockholm+50 for setting specific deadlines for realizing the goals driven towards a sustainable environment.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Question

Q. With reference to ‘Global Environment Facility’, which of the following statements is/are correct? (2014)

(a) It serves as financial mechanism for ‘Convention on Biological Diversity’ and ‘United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’.
(b) It undertakes scientific research on environmental issues at global level.
(c) It is an agency under OECD to facilitate the transfer of technology and funds to underdeveloped countries with specific aim to protect their environment.
(d) Both (a) and (b)

Ans: (a)

Exp:

  • The Global Environment Facility (GEF) was established on the eve of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to serve as a financial mechanism for the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
  • Apart from the above two conventions, it also serves as a financial mechanism for the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification and the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
  • It does not conduct any scientific research.
  • It is not an agency of the OECD. It has its own independent, organized structure of governance, including Assembly (comprising 184 countries), the Council (main governing body), the Secretariat, 18 Agencies, Evaluation Office and a Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP).
  • Therefore, option (a) is the correct answer.

Source: DTE

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