Many may not know it, but it is often said that it was in Stockholm that the sustainability discussion first started. The 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment, also known as the Stockholm Conference, is widely recognized as the beginning of modern political and public awareness of global environmental problems.
This week it has been 40 years since then, and to commemorate this Stockholm is now hosting a new forum, leading up to the Rio+20 UN Conference on sustainable development that will be held later this year, dealing with the tricky mission of “defining pathways to a safer, more equitable, cleaner, greener and more prosperous world for all” .
So right now we have more than 30 ministers from all over the world, and hundreds of international participants in Stockholm – in fact just a few blocks away from my office.
This morning I went there to listen to a panel made up of former participants of the conferences held ever since 1972, being asked what has actually happened since then.
“Not enough” was the harsh answer from the panel’s oldest member, Maurice Strong who was secretary-general at the Stockholm Conference in 1972.
– There’s nothing wrong with the agreements made during this time, but the problem is in the implementation of these agreements. Today we are in a more urgent situation than then, but the will has faded. Frankly, we need a revolution. Because the survival of humanity is at risk, he said.