Environment and its components like wildlife and Natural Resources constitute the vital life support system for all life on this planet. The protection of these through the cumulative efforts of the world community started across globe due to the persistent efforts of the United Nations through its Environmental Programme (UNEP). Other International Organizations like OECD, ICSU, and IUCN etc. also played their separate roles which compelled many reluctant nations to adopt necessary national or international measures for the protection of environment and its components including our natural resources.
A. Treaties Negotiated During or After the Stockholm Conference
The United Nations Environment Programme together with many non-government organizations obtained the ratification of a set of treaties that were negotiated during or after the Stockholm Conference. The set of treaties ratified earlier, though late, and those have come into effect by now, are mentioned below-
• Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, Paris 1972.
• Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of waste and other matter, London1972
• Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, Washington D.C. 1973
• Convention on Prevention of Pollution from ships, London 1973
• Convention on Prohibition of Military or any other hostile use of Environmental Modification Technique, New York 1976
• Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, Canberra, Australia 1980.
The United Nations assisted by many international organizations became successful in getting negotiated and signed a number of other international treaties also, in the later half of 1980s. Since it was up to nations to act on the treaties signed by them, many of the international treaties signed by nations of the world could be acted upon very slowly and reluctantly.
B. Important Conventions
It was during the period between 1985 and 1990 that United Nations Environment Programme and a number of other International Agencies became successful in getting negotiated and signed some important conventions which are mentioned below –
• Vienna Convention for the protection of Ozone Layer, 1985.
• Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident, 1986.
• Montréal Protocol on Substances that Deplete Ozone layer, 1987.
• Convention on Assistance in the Case of Nuclear Accidents on Radiological Emergency, 1986.
• Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, 1989.
In case of implementation of all the treaties and conventions mentioned above the United Nations Environment Programme played an instrumental role along with other agencies towards the achievement of the goals of the Stockholm Declaration.
C. The World Conservation Strategy -1980
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) formulated the World Conservation Strategy in cooperation with the U.N. Environmental Program (UNEP) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), FAO and UNESCO. This Strategy was launched in 1980 in 30 countries, and now many countries are adopting conservation strategies formulated within the suggested guidelines. Following were the objectives of the World Conservation Strategy –
1. To maintain the essential ecological processes and life support system on which human survival depends.
2. To preserve the genetic diversity on which ecological processes of life support system are based.
3. To ensure the sustainable utilization of species and ecosystems (fishes, other wildlife, forests and grazing lands), which support millions of rural communities as well as industries.
D. World Charter for Nature
The World Conservation Strategy 1980 has been observed to be the foundation for the World Charter for Nature which was first introduced in the 12th General Assembly of the IUCN in September- 1975.It was an important expression to achieve a more harmonious and sustainable relationships between humanity and rest of the biosphere. It has been mentioned in the 14th chapter of the charter that- “principles set forth in the charter should be reflected in the law and practice of each state as well as at the International Levels. Thus, an effort was made to launch a cumulative action by all countries of the world for the protection of nature and natural resources”.
E. United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) – 1992
United Nations General Assembly established the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) in 1983 and appointed Mr. Cro Harlem Brundtland as its Chairman. Hence the commission is called as the Brundtland Commission -1983. The commission produced its report in 1987 which was entitled as “Our Common Future”. It was in this report that emphasis was laid on Sustainable Development. The report defined the Sustainable Development as –“the development which provides for the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs”. The Brundtland Commission paved the way for the U N Conference on Environment and Development, otherwise called as the Earth Summit. The General Assembly of United Nations by its resolution number 228, Voted to accept an invitation from Brazil Government on December 22, 1989 to convene a major Conference on Environment and Development at Rio de Janeiro. The UNCED was held from June 3 to June 14 in the year 1992 at the time of 20th centenary of the Stockholm conference and the foundation of UNEP.
The Convention on Biological Diversity was adopted in this conference. It is also called as the Earth Summit. The salient features of the convention are summarized below-
1. That the contracting parties were conscious of the intrinsic value of biological diversity and its components and its importance as a life support system.
2. That the conservation of Biological Diversity is common concern of all mankind.
3. That states have sovereign rights over their own biological resources.
4. That the states are responsible for conserving their biological resources and use them in sustainable manner.
5. That the states should integrate considerations of conservation and sustainable use of biological resources into their National Decision Making and adopt measures relating to the use of biological resources and avoid or minimize adverse impact on biological diversity.
6. That the states should protect and encourage customary use of biological resources in accordance with the traditional, cultural practices that are compatible with the conservation or the sustainable use requirement.
7. That the states should support the local populations to develop and implement remedial action in degraded areas where the biological diversity has been reduced and encourage cooperation between its governmental authority and its private sector in developing methods for the sustainable use of biological resources.
The UNCED or the Earth Summit covered multitude aspects of the problems of Human Environment and Development; and the conservation of Biological Diversity. It also contained provisions for Access to Genetic Resources, Free Transfer of Technological and Scientific Information, Technical and Scientific Cooperation in Handling the Patents of Biotechnology, Distribution of Benefits and Financial Arrangements for the Implementation of Recommendations of the Conservation. Under Article 16 of the convention, provisions are made regarding access to the transfer of technology which is basic to the conservation and sustainable use of biological resources.
Five years after the UNCED-1992 (or the Earth Summit-1992), another conference was convened by the United Nations in New York, in 1997. This summit is popularly known as the Earth Summit+5. It was this summit that the progress made by different countries during the period of five years after the Earth Summit- 1992 was reviewed and assessed. Hence, this conference is known as the Earth Summit +5 or the Earth Summit-2002. Again, in the Earth Summit-2002, held in Johannesburg a complete review of the progress made by different countries during the period since 1997 was made from 26 August to 4 September.