The Impact of the Stockholm Conference on the UN System: Reflections of 50 Years of Environmental Action

United Nations Environment Programme (07/05/2022)

“A point has been reached in history when we must shape our actions throughout the world with a more prudent care for their environmental consequences. Through ignorance or indifference, we can do massive and irreversible harm to the earthly environment on which our life and well-being depend.” These words in paragraph six of the chapeau to the Stockholm Declaration on the Human Environment are as true today as they were 50 years ago when governments gathered in Sweden for the first-ever United Nations environmental conference—the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment. In Stockholm, governments agreed to defend and improve the human environment for present and future generations in harmony with the “fundamental goals” of peace and of worldwide economic and social development. Fifty years later, heads of United Nations agencies and multilateral environmental agreements have reflected on the impact of the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the United Nations system, the success stories and challenges of the past 50 years, and the challenges and opportunities going forward.


Briefing paper