It has been 50 years since the sustainability movement started. However, even today, the planet is in trouble. With an exponential rise in anthropogenic activities, the burden has increased on the planet and the environment significantly. This is a major threat to achievement of Sustainable Development Goals.
Amid such grave concerns, Stockholm+50 is being held in Stockholm, Sweden to commemorate the 50 years since the 1972 United Nations (UN) Conference on the Human Environment (also known as the Stockholm Conference).
What is Stockholm+50?
According to its official website, Stockholm+50 commemorates the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment and celebrates 50 years of global environmental action. By recognizing the importance of multilateralism in tackling the Earth’s triple planetary crisis – climate, nature, and pollution – the international meeting aims to drive action toward a healthy planet for the prosperity of all.
What does Stockholm+50 aim to achieve?
After the Food Systems Summit, climate COP26, the High Level Dialogue on Energy, UNEA5.2, and UNEP@50, and ahead of climate COP27 and biodiversity COP15 amongst other key events, Stockholm+50 is a timely opportunity to reinforce the 1972 principles and to generate urgent actions for a healthy planet for the prosperity of all by:
– Accelerating the implementation of commitments for a sustainable, inclusive, peaceful and gender-responsive future through exploring enhanced and innovative financing and capacity building opportunities, showcasing solutions and examining existing structures;
– Driving actions across sectors needed to recover and build forward from the pandemic and its adverse impacts on people, planet and prosperity;
– Advancing policies and partnerships for transitioning to a net-zero, zero-pollution and nature-positive global economy, including by rethinking new metrics for our economy;
– Promoting structures for meaningful youth participation, by strengthening the voice and representation of young people, and ensuring that the wellbeing of current and future generations is at the core of all discussions; and
– Supporting the mobilisation of innovative and bold action and collaboration by business to drive system transformation
Pathways to Healthy Planet
The outcomes of the various global and regional processes can be brought into the thinking through 5 interconnected pathways, which serve to chart a course towards Stockholm+50 and beyond through providing frames for the Leadership Dialogues and enable us to measure progress towards a healthy planet: through reimagining the future; through regeneration of ecosystems, of community and social resilience; to address a green recovery and inclusive Covid recovery; to rebalance resource use and development for greater equity; to support a reinvigorated/renewed multilateralism.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said at the conference, “part of the solution lies in dispensing with Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a gauge of countries’ economic clout, the Secretary-General continued, describing it as an accounting system “that reward(s) pollution and waste”.
He added: “Let us not forget that when we destroy a forest, we are creating GDP. When we overfish, we are creating GDP. GDP is not a way to measure richness in the present situation in the world.”
After calling on all nations to commit further to implementing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and following the 2015 Paris Agreement to tackle these threats, the Secretary-General also insisted that greater efforts were needed to bring emissions to net zero by 2050.
Commitment in 1972
Ahead of the 1972 conference, 2,200 environmental scientists signed a letter — called the Menton Message — to then UN secretary-general U Thant. The signatories had a sense that the world was moving towards multiple crises. They urged “massive research into the problems that threaten the survival of mankind”, such as hunger, wars, environmental degradation and natural-resource depletion. The UN system went on to play a big part in building the body of knowledge that has shown why sustainability is necessary, and in creating the policy architecture to make it happen. But to do the Stockholm vision justice, there must be bolder action from heads of government and from the UN system. The planned creation of a board of science advisers to UN secretary-general António Guterres needs to be accelerated. Once established, the board must find a way to bring joined-up action on sustainability closer to world leaders.