The United Nations Conference on Human Environment was an international conference held under United Nations in Stockholm, Sweden, from June 5, 1972, to June 16, 1972. The objective of the conference was to guide and inspire people of the world to preserve and enhance the human environment.

An overview of United Nations Conference on the Human Environment - Sheet1
The conference_chinadialogue.net

Historical Background

An overview of United Nations Conference on the Human Environment - Sheet2
the history_legal.un.org

During 1968 – 1969, the general assembly decided to convene a global conference in 1972 in Stockholm, whose principal purpose would be to encourage and provide guidelines to improve and protect the human environment and to provide solutions to its impairment.

The most important objective of the conference was the declaration of the human environment with a document of basic principles and guidelines. Its idea originated with a proposal by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

The work for the declaration was taken up by the conference’s Preparatory Committee in 1971, with the actual drafting of the text enlisted to an intergovernmental working group. By the Year January 1972, the working group managed to produce a draft declaration. On June 16 1972, the conference adopted this document by acclamation and finally put it forward to the general assembly. On December 22 1989, the general assembly conveyed UNCED, and the launching of the terms was processed. 

About

The declaration proclaims that:

  1. Man is both a moulder and a creature of the environment, which provides him with physical sustenance and helps him allow intellectual, moral, social and spiritual growth. In the long torturous evolution of the human race on this planet, a stage has arrived where the rapid acceleration of science and technology, mankind has acquired the power to transform his environment in countless ways and on an unmatched scale. Both aspects of man’s environment, the man-made and the natural, are essential to his well-being and to the enjoyment of basic human rights and the right to life itself.
  2. The improvement and protection of the human environment is a major issue which affects the economic development and well-being of people throughout the world; it’s the urgent desire of people from across the globe and the prime duty of all governments.
  3. Man constantly has to sum up experience and go on inventing, discovering, creating and advancing. In our time, man’s ability to transform his surrounding, if executed wisely, can bring all people the benefits of development and an opportunity to enhance the quality of life.
  4. In the counties developing, the maximum environmental problems are caused by underdevelopment. Million of the population continue to live far below the minimum level required for a decent human existence, deprived of adequate clothing and food, education and shelter, sanitation and health. Therefore, developing countries must direct their maximum efforts towards development, keeping in mind their priorities and the need to safeguard and improve the environment. For the same purpose why the industrialized countries should make efforts to reduce the gap between them and the developing countries. In industrialized countries, environmental problems are related to technological and industrial development.
  5. The natural growth of the population presents problems for the preservation of the environment, and adequate policies and measures need to be adopted. Of all the things in the world, People are the most important. It is people that propel social progress, create technology and social wealth and develop science and, through their efforts, continuously transform the human environment.
  6. A point has arrived in history when we must shape our actions throughout the world with prudent care for their environmental consequences. Through indifference or ignorance, we can do massive and irreversible arm to the earthly environment on which our life and well-being are dependent.
  7. Achieving a certain environmental goal will demand the acceptance of responsibility by citizens and communities and by institutions and enterprises at almost every level. Individuals in all levels of life as well as organizations in various fields, by their values and the sum of their actions, are responsible for shaping the environment of the future. The conference calls upon governments and people to extend common efforts for the preservation and improvement of the human environment, for the benefit of all the people and their posterity.

Principles

States the conviction that:

Man has been given the fundamental right to freedom, adequate conditions for life, and equality in an environment of a quality that permits a life of dignity and well-being and hence bears a solemn responsibility to protect and improve the environment for present and future generations. The natural resources of the earth, including the air, water, flora – fauna and land represent samples of our natural ecosystems and hence should be safeguarded for the benefit of current and future generations through careful management and planning as appropriate.

Online sources

Soas.ac.uk. 2022. [online] Available at: https://www.soas.ac.uk/cedep-demos/000_P514_IEL_K3736-Demo/treaties/media/1972%20Stockholm%201972%20-%20Declaration%20of%20the%20United%20Nations%20Conference%20on%20the%20Human%20Environment%20-%20UNEP.pdf

 [Accessed 28 August 2022].

Nations, U., 2022. Conferences | Environment and sustainable development | United Nations. [online] United Nations. Available at: https://www.un.org/en/conferences/environment#:~:text=The%20history%20of%20sustainable%20development,the%20issue%20of%20the%20environment.

 [Accessed 28 August 2022].

Author

Disha is an architecture graduate from Nagpur University, 2021. Being an avid traveler, she has always tried to connect the city’s art & culture with architecture. She is a keen learner & an extremely creative individual who always seeks opportunities to enhance knowledge & experience in the field of architecture.

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