The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (UNCHE) was an international conference on environment. It was held at Stockholm, Sweden from June 5 to 16, 1972. UNCHE was the first ever United Nations conference on environment and it brought together delegates from different countries to discuss on human activities in relationship to the environment. The UNCHE or Stockholm Conference laid the foundation for international environmental protection measures and international environment diplomacy.
Background and History
The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment was first proposed to the United Nations Economic and Social Council in Geneva by Swedish ambassador Sverker Astrome in 1968. Astrome had proposed a two-week long world conference to address a single subject – the environment. The United Nations General Assembly accepted the proposal and by the resolution of December 3, 1968, it decided to convene the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in 1972.
Initially, United States government was interested in hosting this conference. But United Nations accepted the Swedish government’s offer to host it. The Conference was held in Stockholm, from June 5 to June 16, 1972. It was attended by delegates from 113 countries. The conference was presided over by Swedish agriculture minister Ingemund Bengtsson and Maurice F. Strong from Canada was the Secretary General.
The conference lead to the adoption of the Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment or the Stockholm Declaration on June 16, 1972. The declarations contains 26 principles concerning environmental protection and development. An Action Plan for the Human Environment containing 109 specific recommendations for implementation of those principles was also adopted. Moreover, the Conference led to the establishment of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). And as per the recommendation of the conference, the General Assembly of United Nations designated June 5 as the World Environment Day.
Important facts about UNCHE:
- United Nations Conference on the Human Environment met at Stockholm from June 5 -16, 1972.
- It was the first ever major international conference on environment and development.
- For the first time in history, developing countries such as India, Brazil and China joined an open multilateral discussion forum.
- Attention was drawn to the importance of preserving natural habitats, solving environmental problems and international cooperation.
- It resulted in adoption of the Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment and the Action Plan for the Human Environment containing 109 specific recommendations.
- It lead to creation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi, Kenya.
- It lead to the declaration of June 5 as World Environment Day by the United Nations.
- During her speech in the conference, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi linked poverty with environmental degradation in developing countries. This idea lead to the recognition of importance of poverty alleviation for environment protection and sustainable development.
- United Nations Environment Programme
- Barrett, Scott. (2003). Environment and Statecraft.