Sustainable Development: We Will Have To Do Better

Johannesburg is the venue for the World Summit on Sustainable Development in August and September. If the wish were father to the deed, governments and international bodies would even now provide the means to improve the lives of the world’s poor without destroying the environment. But will Johannesburg fall foul of vested interests and political hot air?

The World Today Published 1 August 2002 Updated 23 October 2020 6 minute READ

Duncan Brack

Associate Fellow, Environment and Society Programme

The history of international cooperation on safeguarding the natural environment stretches back to the late nineteenth century, but it was not until the 1960s, and the dawning realisation that environmental degradation – pollution, resource depletion and biodiversity loss – was an inevitable result of the ways in which modern societies and economies were structured, that environmental protection became a key element of national policy and international diplomacy.

The world’s first major international environmental conference, the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, was held in Stockholm in 1972. Its main aim was to set guidelines for the future handling of environmental issues by the international community. One of its outcomes was the creation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

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