Stockholm Declaration of 1972 Broadly Recognizes Global Environmental Issues

In 1972 in Stockholm, Sweden, the United Nations hosted its first Conference on the Human Environment, the official declaration of which is commonly called the Stockholm Declaration of 1972. The 26 principles within the declaration broadly recognize human impact on the environment, signifying for the first time in history that environmental issues have been addressed publicly and on a global scale. The declaration emphasizes the need for nations to design integrative development plans that combine science and technology in order to lessen air, land, and water pollution and human impact on the environment. It urges each nation to create regulations for protecting wildlife and conserving the natural resources that are available within that country, and suggests creating national population policies, since overpopulation exacerbates the strain on natural resources. The Stockholm Declaration provided a foundation for many of the environmental policies that have been established in the 113 participating countries. Additionally, the core principles presented in the declaration and the discussions that led to it sparked the creation of the United Nations Environmental Programme, which has subsequently developed more specific protocols to protect the environment. 

Contributed by Katelyn Young
Course: Global Environmental History
Instructor: Andrew Stuhl, Ph.D.
Bucknell University Lewisburg, US

Further Readings: 
  • Brousseau, Eric. Global Environmental Commons: Analytical and Political Challenges in Building Governance Mechanisms. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.
  • Louka, Elli. International environmental law: fairness, effectiveness, and world order. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
  • United Nations, ed. Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, A/CONF.48/14/Rev.1. 16 June 1972.