• Legis Scriptor

Stockholm Declaration: Brief overview

Authored by Ekta Sehra


Environment, Sustainable Revolution, Sustainable development, the United Nations Environment Programme.


The environment is vital for human survival, but the developmental goals of human beings are degrading it harshly. In 1972, the UN organized a conference to discuss environmental issues at the international level. The conference is commonly known as the Stockholm Conference, which led to the foundation of the Stockholm Declaration. It aims at improving the position of the environment and to resolve its issues worldwide by its 26 principles. It also provided the base for international environmental laws and policies.


The environment is the visible supreme deity on the earth. The environment consists of four elements, namely, atmosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere, and Biosphere. Undoubtedly, The environment is an indispensable ground for human survival.

However, the environment is degrading and losing its essence in a genuine sense. The discernible reason for such degradation is the evolution of human beings and their so-called development over time. It is not a territorial issue but an international issue.

Background and Stockholm conference:

In 1968, Sweden had shown its concern over environmental issues and presented its view that the United Nations should hold an international conference to examine and recognize these issues at the international level. presented

In 1972, the United Nations took its very first step towards the environmental issue. It had a conference on the human environment in Stockholm (Sweden) concerning this issue at an international level. It is commonly known as the United Nations conference on the Human Environment, or Stockholm Conference. The convention led to the adoption of the Stockholm Declaration.[1]

The Stockholm conference was organized on June 5, 1972, and continued till June 16, 1972. Today, June 5 is celebrated as the World Environment Day. The motto of this conference was- Only One Earth. It also aimed to inspire and create awareness among people all around the world to join its mission of preservation and enhancement of the human environment to protect the earth.

It laid down the groundwork for progress in the environment and development. The United Nations Environment Programme was one of the significant results of it.

Stockholm Declaration:

The Stockholm conference leads to the Stockholm declaration, having 26 principles, an action plan of 109 recommendations, and a resolution on the institutional and financial arrangement.[2] It was the first step towards sustainable development goals and the Sustainable Revolution. It also laid down the foundation of international laws and policies for the environment.

There are 26 principles under this declaration. The following are the principles of this declaration;

· Principle 1 states that policies promoting or perpetuating apartheid, racial segregation, discrimination, colonial must be eliminated and condemned.

· Principle 2 provides that natural resources like air, water, land, flora, and fauna, must be safeguarded.

· Principle 3 provides that the earth's capacity to produce renewable resources must be maintained.

· Principle 4 states that Nature conservation, including wildlife, must be safeguarded.

· Principle 5 states that non-renewable resources must be shared with being exhausted.

· Principle 6 states that pollution by toxic resources and other resources must not exceed the environment's capacity to clean itself.

· Principle 7 states that the states must prevent water pollution.

· Principle 8 states that Economic and social development is essential for the improvement of the quality of life.

· Principle 9 states that the transfer of substantial quantities of financial and technological assistance can remedy environmental deficiencies.

· Principle 10 provides that developing countries must take account of economic factors and ecological processes.

· Principle 11 lays down the significance of sustainable development.

· Principle 12 states that developing countries need money to achieve environmental goals.

· Principle 13 states that countries should adopt an integrated and coordinated approach to achieve their developmental goals.

· Principle 14 states the significance of rational thinking to resolve the conflict between development and the environment.

· Principle 15 states that planning must be able to meet the maximum social, economic, and environmental benefits for all without adverse effects on the environment.

· Principle 16 provides that the government should make policies balancing the population and its effect on the environment.

· Principle 17 provides that National Institutions of states must work to enhance environmental quality.

· Principle 18 provides that science and technology must be used as a solution to environmental issues and problems.

· Principle 19 states the significance of environmental education to all.

· Principle 20 provides that especially developing countries must promote scientific research and development in environmental problems.

· Principle 21 states that countries may exploit their resources, but it should not damage their national jurisdiction.

· Principle 22 provides that states must compensate the victims.

· Principle 23 provides that counties must develop their own standards, as it varies with developing and developed countries.

· Principle 24 states that national corporations must handle international issues in the environment.

· Principle 25 states that countries shall ensure that international organizations are working well in the improvement of the environment.

· Principle 26 provides that nations must eliminate destructive weapons like nuclear weapons.[3]

The United Nations Environment Programme:

It was the fruit of the Stockholm Conference, 1972. It is a part of the United Nations that deals with its environmental activities and encourages and assists developing nations in implementing environmentally sound policies and practices. The UNEP has its headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. It also has six regional offices. The UNEP is headed by an Executive Director. The UNEP is principally concerned in the areas of the atmosphere, marine, and terrestrial ecosystem, environmental governance, and green economy.

There are notably six areas of concentration for the UNEP:

1. Climate change

2. Post Conflict and Disaster Management

3. Ecosystem management

4. Environmental governance

5. Harmful substances

6. Resource efficiency or sustainable consumption and production.[4]

The UNEP is undoubtedly playing a commendable work for the environmental welfare by performing these functions, essentially;

1. It engages itself in developing conventions at an international level and brings its focus on environmental issues.

2. It promotes environmental science and information related to it.

3. It creates awareness among people and assists developing nations in implementing environmentally sound policies and practices.

4. It provides financial aids to developmental programs of the environment and its implementation.

5. It engages non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the government of its member countries, civil societies, and others in promoting its agenda of preserving and protecting the environment.

6. It also formulates treaties and laid down guidelines for international trade of commodities that are hazardous to the environment, such as harmful chemicals.

7. It also encourages countries, individuals, and institutions by honoring them with awards that do excellent work in this field.

India and UNEP:

India has been closely connected with the United Nations Environment Programme from its very beginning. It actively participates in its programs and projects. India records the presence of UNEP in its territory from 2016 with the establishment of its office in 2016. The Government of India's Ministry for Environment, Forests and Climate Change interacts as a nodal agency with the UNEP. UNEP has also recognized India's initiatives in promoting and preserving environmental welfare. India also contributes financially to UNEP.

Even, the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi was also awarded ‘Champions of the Earth’ along with the French President by the UNEP in the category of ‘policy leadership’, in 2018.[5] India also joined its Climate & Clean Air Coalition (CCAC) in 2019.[6] So it is quite clear that India is also promoting and walking on the path of sustainable development.


The environment is the biggest reason for the survival of living beings. But, the so-called target of the development of humans is adversely affecting nature and the environment. Global Warming and Climate change are the best examples to explain the level of degradation of the environment. So, it is better to understand that our developmental goals should not affect the environment adversely. Countries, both developing and developed nations, should work on the path of sustainable development without much exploitation of natural resources and the environment.





4. UNEP : United Nations Environment Programme - Office of the Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth


Foot notes: [1] "United Nations Conference on the Human ... - Britannica." Accessed 1 Oct. 2020. [2] "United Nations Conference on the Human ... - Britannica." Accessed 1 Oct. 2020. [3] "Major provisions in the Stockholm declaration - iPleaders." 16 Jul. 2020, Accessed 1 Oct. 2020. [4] "UNEP : United Nations Environment Programme - Office of the ...." Accessed 1 Oct. 2020. [5] "PM Modi | Champions of the Earth award: What is Champions ...." 3 Oct. 2018, Accessed 1 Oct. 2020. [6] "India joins the Climate and Clean Air Coalition | Climate ...." 5 Jul. 2019, Accessed 1 Oct. 2020.