The time line will help you understand the progress of the initiatives that have been collectively taken by the world for the improvement of the environment.
1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s Source
International Conference for Rational Use and Conservation of the Biosphere by UNESCO
(United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) is held. Early
discussions of the concept of ecologically sustainable development.
1971: Polluter Pays the Principle, OECD (Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development) Council says that those causing pollution should pay the costs.
1972: Conference on
Human Environment, the historical Conference on Human Environment held in
Stockholm in June 1972 was the first global recognition that the environment was
endangered and the governments and the industry had to collectively put in an effort. For
the first time the developed countries realised that they had completely ignored the
impact on the environment during their rapid development. Since then, with the forming of
the UNEP (United Nation Environment Programme), almost all countries have undertaken to
monitoring the quality of their air, water and other components of the natural world. With
an increase in economic activities and its widespread impact in the following years, all
lead to the culmination 20 years later of the earth summit at Rio.
1975: CITES, the convention on international trade in endangered species of flora and fauna was signed on 3rd March 1973 in Washington and came into force on 1st July 1975. India became a signatory in October 1976. Its secretariat is at Geneva and till 1998 it had 144 countries as its members. Its main aim is to ensure that the international trade in wild animals and plants and their parts and products is not detrimental to the survival of the species. Each country is responsible for the implementation of the convention within its frontiers. The parties to CITES meet every 2 to 3 years to discuss and decided upon measures to improve the implementation of the convention. NGOs are also permitted to participate. www.nuep.ch/cites.html
the first global meeting to link human settlement and the environment was held to
highlight the problems being faced due to an increase in the population.
1977: Conference on
Desertification, the United Nations holds a Conference on Desertification.
1979: Convention on
Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution is adopted to develop the best strategies
and policies, including air quality management systems, in respect of operation of old,
new and rebuilt installations.
1981: World Health
Assembly adopts a global strategy for health for all by the year 2000.
1982: The United
Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea is adopted. It led to the establishment
of rules concerning environmental standards as well as enforcement provisions dealing with
pollution of the marine environment.
International Conference on Environment and Economics (OECD) was held. It
concluded that environment and economics should be mutually reinforcing. This conference
led to the Brundtland Report called "Our Common Future". The findings of this
report were compiled to be discussed in the UN Conference on Environment and Development,
the Earth Summit at Rio in June, 1992.
Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer was attended by 21 countries and
the European Community. It was the same year that the hole in the ozone layer over the
Antarctica was first discovered. This convention created a general obligation for
countries to take appropriate measures to protect the ozone layer.
Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was finalizing and approval
and entered into force in 1989. 36 countries that together accounted for 80% of the CFC
consumption ratified it.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC) was set up to assess the
technical issues that were being raised. Its first report stated that the possibility of
global warming had to be taken seriously.
1989: The Basel
Convention was drawn up in Basel, Switzerland in March 1989 with over 100
countries signing the treaty. It is an international agreement on the control of
transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and their disposal.
1990: UN Summit for
Children gave recognition of the impact of the environment on the future
1992: Earth Summit the
United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), was held in Rio
de Janeiro in Brazil. The gathering momentum on environmental issues was given support and
global focus and Agenda 21 was set out as a blueprint for action for the 21st
1992: United Nations
Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) - the centerpiece of global
efforts to combat global warming. It was adopted in May1992 at the Rio Earth Summit, and
entered into force on March 21st, 1994. The Convention's primary objective is
the stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would
prevent dangerous anthropogenic (man-made) interference with the climate system. Such a
level should be achieved within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt
naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened, and to
enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.
first meeting of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development was held to
ensure effective follow-up to the earth summit, to enhance international cooperation and
to rationalize intergovernmental decision making capacity.
Nations Convention on Desertificationwas held to take into consideration the
heavy pressure on natural resources for livelihood etc directly leading to land
degradation and pressure on scarce water resources.
1995: World Summit for
was held in Copenhagen, Denmark. For the first
time the international community expressed a clear commitment to eradicate absolute
1995: The First
Conference of the Parties (COP-1) to the FCCC, the UN Framework Convention on Climate
Change took place in Berlin from 28 March - 7 April 1995. It comprised of 170+
nations that have ratified the Convention and is expected to continue meeting on a yearly
basis. In addition to addressing a number of important issues related to the future of the
FCCC, delegates reached agreement on what many believed to be the central issue before
COP-1 - adequacy of commitments, the "Berlin Mandate." Delegates agreed to
establish an open-ended Ad Hoc Group on the Berlin Mandate (AGBM) to begin a process
toward appropriate action for the period beyond 2000, including that of the commitments of
Annex I Parties through the adoption of a protocol or other legal instrument. COP-1 also
requested the Secretariat to make arrangements for sessions of the subsidiary bodies on
scientific and technological advice (SBSTA) and implementation (SBI). SBSTA serves as the
link between the information provided by competent international bodies, and the
policy-oriented needs of the COP. SBI was created to develop recommendations to assist the
COP in the review and assessment of the implementation of the FCCC and in the preparation
and implementation of its decisions.
Source: International Institute of Sustainable Development. 1999 Earth Negotiations Bulletin Vol. 12 No. 123
1996: ISO 1400,
this was formally adopted as a voluntary international standard for corporate environment
1997: Kyoto Protocol,
159 nations attending the Third Conference of Parties (COP-3) to the United Nations
Framework Convention on Climate Change (held in December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan) agreed to
reduce worldwide emissions of greenhouse gases. Delegates to COP-3 agreed to the following
The time line has been compiled from the following sources: