Stockholm+50: Build on the strong legacy
Stockholm+50 is an opportunity for nations to steer humanity back on the path to a healthy planet. Whether nations can rise to the challenge remains to be seen
Two years after the Covid-19 outbreak, which reminded the world about the deep linkages between the environment and human health, senior government representatives, including 10 Heads of State and members of civil society, are meeting in Sweden this week for the Stockholm+50 conference. The meeting (June 2-3) commemorates 50 years of the 1972 United Nations (UN) Conference on the Human Environment, which made the environment a pressing global issue for the first time, established the United Nations Environment Programme, and began an essential dialogue between industrialised and developing countries on the links between the environment, economic growth, and human wellbeing. The discussions of the 1972 meeting, attended by 113 countries, also provided a template for every major climate- and environment-related international treaties, from the Rio Earth Summit to Kyoto to the Paris climate meets, and global programmes since then.
The Stockholm+50 is being held at a time when the climate crisis, the fallout of mindless development and resource extraction, is ravaging the world, and impoverishing people. It is causing more frequent extreme weather events, leading to severe rainfall and droughts. These, in turn, have massive collateral impacts: Worsening food and water scarcity, political instability and distress migration. The Stockholm+50 will, hopefully, also accelerate another crucial (but slow-moving) plan: The implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, an action plan to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy prosperity.
At the 1972 summit, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi said, “There is no alternative to a cooperative approach on a global scale to the entire spectrum of our problems.” On Tuesday, Union environment minister Bhupender Yadav, who is attending the current summit, reiterated that thought when he reminded the world that it “stands at an inflection point” and that “urgent, collective global action with the spirit of equity is required more than ever before.” Stockholm+50 is an opportunity for nations to steer humanity back on the path to a healthy planet. Whether nations can rise to the challenge remains to be seen.