Five Decades of Global Environmental Action

The world has seen evolution and revolution in the environment. Recognition of various man-made threats or climatic signals has been a key to developing strategies and moving towards a better and secure future of all living forms. As we celebrate a 50-year-old tradition, we must commemorate the intensive global initiatives taken to bring us this far.


Summits & Conferences


1972: The Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, 1972 marked the turning point in global environmental action. The aim of the conference was to forge a basic common outlook to preserve and enhance the human environment. Later that year, a resolution was passed by the UN, recognizing June 5th, the first day of the landmark conference as the World Environment Day. Alongside, it urged the governments and international organizations in the UN system to carry out on that day every year, activities reaffirming the concerns for preservation and enhancement of the human environment, with a view to deepening environmental awareness and pursuing determination expressed at the conference.

It also led to the establishment of UNEP (United Nations Environmental Programme), the specialized agency on environmental issues. These revolutionary initiatives have changed the course of environmental sensitivity by raising awareness, generating political momentum around issues ranging from global warming, desertification to protecting and celebrating biodiversity this year.


1987: World Commission on Environment and Development was established by UNGA Resolution in December 1983. It prepared a report based on a four-year study named ‘Our Common Future’ and popularly known as the Brundtland Report. This further led to the evolution of the theme ‘sustainable development’.


1992: United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, 1992 popularly known as the 1st Earth Summit, was aimed at addressing the then pressing problems and preparing the world for the challenges in the next century. Emphasizing on how global partnership can encourage sustainable development and condemning warfare and unethical environmental practices, this conference led to the adoption of two major agreements; Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, a series of 27 principles defining the rights and responsibilities of States; Agenda 21, a global plan of action to promote sustainable development; the Rio Forestry Principles.



It further led to the signing of two multilateral treaties; Convention on Biological Diversity and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The former was inspired by the world community’s growing commitment to sustainable development. 2002: World Summit on Sustainable Development, 2002 took place in Johannesburg. It involved reviewing the progress in implementation of Agenda 21, as adopted in 1992, and led to the Johannesburg Declaration on sustainable development embarking on the implementation plan.


2015: UN Sustainable Development Summit, 2015 was a high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly which came out with the document ‘Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’.


Major Conventions and Treaties.


Related to the protection of wildlife:


CITES 1973, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.


CMS 1979, the Convention on the Conservation of the Migratory Species of Wild Animals, to provide a global platform for the conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and their habitats and to bring together the States through which migratory animals passes.


Related to Biodiversity


CBD, Convention of Biodiversity, it is the brainchild of UNEP and materialized during Earth Summit, 1992. In order to meet the objectives of the convention, various protocols and targets have been set up including Cartegena Protocol on Biological Safety, Nagoya Protocol, Aichi Targets, Global Biodiversity Outlook, and many more.


Related to Climate Change


UNFCC, Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement, an outcome of the Earth Summit, 1992. Its ultimate aim is to prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system. This has not only caused nations to collaborate on climate change issues but has created a forum for industrial regulations with respect to the environment.


References:

1.https://www.un.org/en/observances/environment-day

2. https://research.un.org/en/docs/environment/conferences

Article by Tanisha Jain, a first-year undergraduate at Lloyd Law College, Greater Noida.


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