Earlier, there was no precise environmental policy. The seventies witnessed a new dimension in the history of environmental policy at a global level. The developments that took place during this decade gave new direction for environmental protection. A brief survey of the policy perspective is stated hereunder.
THE STOCKHOLM DECI RATION, 1972
The year 1968 marks a watershed in the history of environmental policy management. The Economic and Social Council of the United Nations passed a resolution (No.1346) on 30th July 1968 for convening an International Conference on the problems of the human environment. This was followed by a resolution No.2398 (XXIII) passed on 3rd December 1968 by the United Nation General Assembly. In pursuance of the resolution the United Nations Conference on Human Environment for the first time, was held at Stockholm from 5th to 16th June 1972. 113 States including India represented by the then Prime Minister, Mrs Indira Gandhi participated. A declaration under the head “The Magna Carta Our Environment” was passed in the conference. It contains 26 principles providing for an international environmental policy the protection and improvement of the Environment.
The Conference is of particular reference to India. Mrs Gandhi, while addressing the conference, drew the attention of the world community towards our peculiar environmental problems. India shared the view with other developing states that environmental problems are mainly due to lack of development rather than excessive development. Thus, every Government in the world, in the process of development encourages the establishment of industries to eradicate poverty, malnutrition, unemployment etc. At the same time, the process of development should be designed in such a way that it should not result in environmental pollution.
RIO SUMMIT, 1992 (RIO DECLARATION ON ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT)
The most revolutionary step in the present decade was the “Rio-Summit, 1992”. It is also known as the ‘Earth Summit’. Rio Summit is the third International Conference/Conference on Environment held at Rio De from 3rd to 14th June 1992.
It is the largest convention in the history of international relations. About 20,000 delegates from 178 states/nations attended the conference and hence it is called as the “Earth Summit”. Maurice Strong, the U.N.C.E.D. (United Nations Conference on Environment and Development) Chief described it as “Parliament of the Planet”. A declaration under the head “The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, 1992″ was passed in the conference. The document produced at the Earth Summit, as it is called, has 40 chapters, having 800 pages. It reaffirmed the Stockholm Declaration, 1972 seeking to build upon it with the goal of establishing a new and equitable partnership and promotion of friendly relations among the member states.
Main features:- The Ri Declaration Proclaims that:
- The Declaration contains 27 Principles.
- Human beings are entitled to a healthy productive life in harmony with nature (Principle 1).
- The states must ensure that their developmental activities and environmental policy shall not cause damage beyond their national jurisdictions to other states/nations (Principle 2).
- AII states shall co-operate for eradicating poverty for sustainable development and to promote the standard of living (Principle 5).
- States shall co-operate in a spirit of global partnership to conserve, protect and restore the health and integrity of the Earth’s ecosystem (Principle 7).
- States shall enact effective environmental legislations and shall maintain environmental standards (Principle 11).
- In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities (Principle 15).
- States shall immediately notify other states of any natural disasters or other emergencies that are likely to produce sudden harmful effects on the environment of those states (Principle 18).
- Peace, development and environment protection are interdependent and indivisible (Principle 25).
- States shall resolve all their environmental disputes peacefully and by appropriate means in accordance with the charter of the United Nations.
THE UNITED NATIONS ENVIRONMENT PROGRAMME (U.N.E.P.)
The first international conference on the human environment under the aegis of the United Nations was held at Stockholm 5th to 16th June 1972. A declaration under the head “The Magna Carta Our Environment” was passed. It (the Stockholm Declaration) called for an international environmental policy for the protection and improvement of the environment. As a result, the United Nations Environmental Programme (U.N.E.P.) was set up in Geneva in June 1973. The first Executive Director of the U.N.E.P. was Mr Maurice Strong. The main objective of the U.N.E.P. is to implement successfully, the recommendations of the Stockholm Declaration. The U.N.E.P. strove hard for institutionalising the conceptual framework of the Stockholm Declaration.
The U.N.E.P. plays a significant role in harmonizing environmental policies relating to international trade and to bring about effective control over environmental threats faced by the member states beyond their territorial jurisdiction. U.N.E.P. in 1981 organised a meeting of Governmental concerns on Environmental Law. Another Conference was organised by the U.N.E.P. at Vienna in 1985, on the protection of Ozone Layer. The U.N.E.P., through the “Earth Watch” programme, undertake research on environmental problems. It also provides for exchange of information among the Scientists and Governments.
OZONE DEPLETION (DEPLETION OF OZONE LAYER OR RISKS TO OZONE LAYER)
Among the global problems of the present day, “Ozone Depletion or Depletion of Ozone Layer” is a serious threat to the existence and survival of the human race.
Ozone: Meaning:- The expression ‘Ozone’ is an allotrope or derivative of oxygen. It is a different form of life-sustaining oxygen having three atoms (O3) instead of the usual two (O2). The third atom is very unstable and can be eliminated by chronic irons. It is colourless with a peculiar smell.
Ozone Layer:- The outer covering of atmosphere protecting each from ultraviolet rays of Sun is called “Ozone Layer”. In simple words, “the amount of ozone accumulated in the upper atmosphere is called ‘Ozone Layer’.
Ozone Depletion:- The amount of ozone accumulated in the upper atmosphere (ozone layer) screens the earth from harmful Ultra-Violet Blue Radiation (U.V.B.). This screen, as revealed by studies, is getting deteriorated and a hole in the ozone layer has been detected above Antarctica. The rapid growth of population, industrialisation and urbanisation, which are instrumental for environmental pollution would reduce the width of the ozone layer. The decrease in the width of the ozone layer is called “Ozone Depletion”. Scientists say that the ozone layer had already been depleted by 1%. However, there is no technical equipment to measure the rate of depletion.
Causes for Ozone Depletion:- Rapid growth of population, industrialisation, urbanisation and advancement of Science and Technology. This resulting in environmental pollution which are the main causes of ozone depletion.
Scientists found that there is a close link between the family foam mattress, refrigerator and the air conditioning system of an average home and Ozone Layer 50 to 70 K.M. above the earth. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) emitted into the atmosphere from Refrigeration and Air-conditioning systems cause serious damage to the Ozone Layer. They believe that free chronic irons into the atmosphere from plastics and other chemicals remove the extra atom of oxygen, which makes the ozone. The developing states aiming for green revolutions resorted to the use of Nitrogenous fertilizer. The chemicals that are released from the Nitrogen fertilizer cause serious damage to the Ozone Layer. The present world consumption of the Nitrogenous fertilizer is about 50 megatons and it is expected to reach 100 to 200 megatons within 20 years.
ACID RAINS OR ACIDIFICATION
Everyone admits the importance of rains, without which there is no survival of the human race. However, rain in certain parts of the earth has taken on a new and threatening complexity. Industries emit noxious and hazardous substances and gases into the environment. A part of such water evaporated from the sea reaches the clouds and causes rains. In certain parts of the earth gases and hazardous substances released from industries are accumulated in the seas. By evaporation, such sea water reaches clouds and causes acid rains.
Technically speaking, burning fossil fuels of power stations factories and motor vehicles mix with air. It brings down dilute sulphuric and nitric acid and thereby cause acid rains. The rapid growth of industrialisation and the growth of cities in the world in developing countries are the main cause of acidification. Acid rain is likely to occur, whenever fossil fuels are intensively used.
Acid rains are not only injurious to health and safety of human life but also cause heavy damage to wildlife, water life, forests, croplands and also to the world’s most important ancient monuments (Eg. Taj Mahal). Some of the world’s greatest cultural treasures including Parthenon in Athens and Trojan’s Column in Rome were destroyed by the acid rains.
Earlier, acidification was regarded as a regional problem, confined to the industrial areas of the northern hemisphere. The rate of acidification is being increased from time to time and has been recognized as an international environmental problem. A special conference on acidification of the environment was held at Stockholm in 1982. It reviewed and assessed a large amount of scientific information pertaining to the acidification.
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