Man’s concern for natural environment has always been there but his serious concern about the issues of resource depletion and degrading environment/ecosystem began after World War II when industrialisation started vigorously. However, nothing tangible was done to control damage afflicted to environment till 1960s. In the early decades industry, trade and business resisted efforts aimed at environmental protection and resource conservation because money spent on such efforts would diminish profit. However, the attitude is changing, not because of legal action only but also due to realisation that cutting down on raw material and generating less waste could be a financial gain. Also, there was an International angle to environment which could not be ignored. It became clear that problems like Ozone Depletion or Global Warming cannot be tackled at national level alone. Leaders, politicians and people in general, therefore, started looking up at organisations like UN for environmental issues. United Nation’s Conference on Human Environment, 1972
It was in the light of above mentioned scenario that the United Nation’s Conference on Human Environment was held in 1972 at Stockholm. It marked the beginning of organised international efforts for comprehensive programme to safeguard environment while also promoting economic development. The following two strategies emerged in this conference. 1. The principles and action plan were evolved for controlling and regulating human environment. 2. Institutional and financial arrangements were proposed for achieving the goal for regulating human environment. This has been called the Magna Carta on environment. It declared: a) Humans have the fundamental right to freedom, equality and adequate conditions of life in an environment of quality that permits a life of dignity and well-being. b) Human beings have responsibility to protect and improve the environment for present and future generations. General Assembly’s Resolution of December, 1972
Stockhom Conference was followed by the United Nation’s General Assembly resolution on December 15, 1972 emphasising the need of active cooperation among the States in the sphere of human environment. The Resolution designated June 5 as the World Environment Day and urged governments and organisations in the United Nations system to undertake on that day every year worldwide activities reaffirming their concern for the protection of the environment. Another resolution was passed which provided for institutional and financial arrangements for international cooperation for environment. Amongst other decisions, provisions were made for establishing a Governing Council for Environmental Programme (Headquarter at Nairobi) leading to establishment of Environment Secretariat and Environment Fund. The Governing Council formulated long-term and short-term plans for the protection of environment particularly relating to development. Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States, 1974
The Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States 1974 is a document of UN. One of its articles states that: “The protection, preservation and the enhancement of the environment for the present and future generations is the responsibility of all States. All States have the responsibility to ensure that the activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment of other States or of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction. All States should cooperate in evolving international norms and regulations in the field of the environment”. UN-Habitat Conference on Human Settlement of 1976, World Water Conference of 1977 and Other Conferences The international efforts at the protection and preservation of environment became vigorous in 1970s and 1980s. Most important efforts are the following: 1. UN Habitat Conference on Human Settlements in Vancouver, Canada in 1976. 2....