Resources for:
  Civil Society
  Business Persons
  Children and Youth

Thematic Areas

 Printable Version


Resolution 1

The environment in 1982: retrospect

And prospect

The Governing Council.

Having met in Nairobi from 10 to 18 May 1982 in a session of a special character to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, held at Stockholm from 5 to 16 June 1972.

Having taken into account the report of the Executive Director entitled “The environment in 1982: retrospect and prospect”, 8/

Reaffirming its commitment to the implementation of the Action Plan for the Human Environment adopted by the Stockholm Conference.

Convinced that the principles of the Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment are as valid today as they were in 1972, and, together with the principles adopted in Nairobi at the session of a special character, provide baasic guidance for effective and sustained environment progress.

The major achievements in the implementation of the

Action Plan for the Human Environment

1. Concludes that the past decade has seen:

(a) Increased awareness among Governments and the Public of the implications of environmental change, and acceptance that environmental protection consists not only of pollution abatement, but also of the rational use of natural resources for sustainable development;

(b) Provision for the environment in many national constitutions and administrative structures, creation of new environmental programmes at regional and international levels, and the, extension and intensification of existing ones;

(c) Increase co-operation and collaboration among and between Governments and international organizations on environmental assessment and management;

(d) Efforts to protect the environment slowed down somewhat towards the end of the decade because of financial difficulties experienced by some countries;

(e) A worsening of environmental problems in developing countries arising from the present international economic order which has slowed down their development and the protection of their environment;

2. Considers that the sector-by-sector review of the implementation of the Action Plan suggests a mixed record of achievement. An over-all assessment is that fair-to-good progress has been made in implementing some of the elements of the Action Plan, while in respect of other elements the record has ben very modes;

3. Further considers that major achievements and failures in the implementation of the Action Plan appear to be:

(a) In the area of environment assessment:

(i) The Global Environmental Monitoring System is operating and expanding. Although important gaps in the development, co-ordination, user applications and integration of the system components persists;

(ii) The Global Atmospheric Research Programme has continued and international studies of climatic change and variability and of the applications of climate knowledge to human activity have been incorporated in the World Climate Programme:

(iii) The International Referral System for sources of environmental information is functioning but has not adequately realized its objectives, in particular because the growth of user demand has been slow:

(iv) The International Register of Potentially Toxic Chemicals has started to prove itself as an important Centre for information on toxic chemicals;

(v) The International Programme on Chemical Safety is providing toxicological assessments of an increasing number of substances, together with accelerated manpower development, guidelines for emergency response to chemical accidents and technical co-operation relating to control of toxic chemicals;

(vi) Assessments of the environmental impacts of various sources of energy have been published;

(vii) A major entitled The World Environment 1972-11982 has been published in conjunction with the session of a special character;

(b) In the area of environment management:

(i) There has been progress in the formulation of regional environmental programmes, and Governments have concluded a number of important global and regional agreements as well as drawn up principles and guidelines, although in some cases there have been delays in their implementation or observance;

(ii) World-wide efforts have expanded to combat desertification, to improve water supply and management, and to improve human settlements although progress to implement the comprehensive United Nations action plans developed in each of these areas has remained slow;

(iii) Progress has been in the implementation of international scientific programmes relating to the human environment, particularly the Programme on Man and the Biosphere and the International Hydrological Programme;

(iv) The World Conservation Strategy, which focuses on and provides guidance for sustainable development through conservation of living resources, is being used by an increasing number of Governments as a basis for national conservation programmes;

(v) There has been progress in conceptualizing the objectives of environmental management and in developing some of its tools, such as environmental impact assessment, cost-benefit analysis and cost-effectiveness analysis;

(vi) The need to take environmental considerations into account in the evaluation of development projects had been widely recognized;

(vii) Although progress has been made through the International whaling Commission in reducing whale catch quotes, the call for a 10-year moratorium on commercial whaling has not been given effect;

(viii) The Regional Seas Programme, which covers environmental assessment, environmental management, environmental law and supporting measures, including aspects of technical assistance and training, has been implemented with a satisfactory measure of success. Sufficient resources, continued planning and sustained commitment by Governments andinternational organizations are, however, necessary to maintain and extend the programme;

(ix) Industry has had a number of achievements in reducing its adverse effects on the environment, but still needs to strive and be encouraged to assume fully a role commensurate with its capabilities. Environmental controls in industrial development, including measures for the improvement of the working environment, as still very weak in a large number of countries;

(x) The industry and environment programme of the United Nations system has identified the environmental impacts of a number of specific industries, and guide lines formulated to deal with them are being tested and applied: training programmes have been provided, and a supportive information service established and put into operation;

(xi) The draft principles of conduct in the field of the environment for the guidance of States in the conservation and harmonius utilization of natural resources shared by two or more states were the subject of United Nations General Assembly resolution 34/186 of 18 December 1979 and have not been widely used by Governments;

(xii) Inadequacies persist in redressing environmental problems of poverty and underdevelopment;

(xiii) In the area of supporting measures:

(i) Progress has been made by Governments and international organizations in encouraging environmental education particularly following the intergovernmental Conference on Environmental Education (Tbilisi, 1977). In the field of training, however, significant attention to environmental education, particularly at University workers, technicians and managers and to public education;

(ii) Programmes of technical co-operation at the International level have increasingly included environmental components;

(iii) World Environment Day (5 June) is now observed by almost all countries. The various member organizations of the United Nations system participate actively in a wide information programme catalysed by the Joint United Nations Information Committee. Despite the progress, however, the information programme is still inadequate and does not take sufficient account of regional needs;

(iv) The United Nations Environment Programme and other organizations in the United Nations system have published many technical and general reports relevant to the environment. Coverage of environmental issues by the world media has expanded, particularly at the national level. Non-governmental organizations have made major contributions to increasing public awareness and knowledge of environmental issues. Continuation of these efforts remains important;

(v) Despite extensive aid through bilateral and multilateral channels t assist with development programmes, it is recognized that the priorities of developing countries for dealing with their serious environmental problems still do not receive adequate attention;

(vi) In the area of institutional and financial arrangements for international environmental co-operation;

The Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme the environment secretariat and Environment Fund were established, and procedures for efficient co-ordination of environmental programme in the United Nations system came into effect;


New perceptions of environmental issues

1. Considers that the following new perceptions which envolved during the past decade are generally accepted and, together with the Nairobi Declaration, complement the principles contained in the Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment:

(a) Issues of disarmament and security in so far as they relate tot he environment, because the role of the United Nations Environment programme is to promote environmentally sound development in harmony with peace and security, need to receive appropriate attention;

(b) Wise use of resources and enlightened conservation strategies are consistent with the economic growth imperative and should be considered prerequisites for sustainable growth;

(c) Imaginative research into alternative consumption patterns, technological style and land-use strategies, and the institutional, economic, juridical and educational framework to sustain them, are called for;

(d) The important interconnections between the components and processes which support the life of the planet should be taken seriously into account in development plans. Actions which benefit one area may cause unforeseen damage in others, and the possibility of such consequences should be considered at the planning stage;

(e) Because of the great space and time variability in environmental processes and the fallibility of models of technological and social change, environmental development and management should be planned in a flexible fashion. Unexpected changes should be detected at an early stage through continuous monitoring;

(f) Development plans should take account of the “outer limits” to the stability of environmental system;

(g) Development in the transfer of certain inappropriate technologies, export of toxic substances and hazardous materials and certain marketing arrangements, such as the patenting of seeds, can pose serious risks to the environment which need to be arrested;

(h) The United Nations system, involving especially the catalytic role of the United Nations Environment Programme, must address environmental problems of poverty and underdevelopment, particularly in the framework of the efforts being undertaken to establish the new international economic order;


Major environmental trends, potential problems and priorities for

action for the United Nations system, co-ordination by the United

Nations Environment Programme, during the period 1982-1992

1. Considers that the United Nations system must be alert to and retain the necessary programme flexibility for addressing major environmental trends and problems which may emerge or become more pronounced during the coming decade;

2. The trends, problems and priorities for action should receive attention by the United Nations system, and specifically through the system-wide programme activities co-ordinated by the United Nations Environment Programme, as listed below:

(a) Atmosphere

Trends and problems: Continued deterioration in urban air quality in developing countries and, in the case of some pollutants, in developed countries, long-range transportof air pollution, including SO2 and Nox emissions that give rise to acid rains, continued increase of CO2, other trace gases and particultes in the atmosphere, possible depletion of stratospheric ozone, possible effects of human activities on weather and climate, extreme Meteorological events such as tropical cyclones, floods and droughts;

Priority for action: Integrated monitoring of atmospheric pollutants and their effects, development and promotion of appropriate global, regional and national programmes; guidelines or conventions to responds to these problems; improvement of early-warning indicators for extreme Meteorological events; understanding of factors affecting climate, including ocean atmosphere interactions;

(b) Oceans

Trends and problems: Increasing pollution of the seas with oil and other substances from land-based sources and from ships; pollution of estuaries and coastal waters; overfishing; environmentally inappropriate exploitation of marine and coastal resources, despite expansion of mariculture and protected areas;

Priority for action: Development and application of methods for monitoring, assessing, reducing and preventing: (I) pollution of the seas, including oil pollution; (ii) degradation of natural resources including mangrove and coral areas; development of new and strengthening of existing programmes and conventions for the environmental protection of regional seas; further development of plans and procedures for the management of marine resources; further development of mariculture and the establishement of marine protected areas; and support for disaster mitigation;

(c) Water

Trends and problems: Depletion and deterioration of surface water and ground water increasing demand for drinking , agriculture and industry, and rising pollution in most countries; continued acidification and eutrophication fresh water; enironmental problems created by water development projects; inadequate water basin management; transboundary water pollution, and continued technical difficulties in management of surface water and ground waters shared by two or more states;

Priority for action ; Assistance in the implementation of the objectives of the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade, and in the promotion of guidelines for environmentally sound water management, including aspects; management of inland fisheries and aquaculture; promotion of techniques for rational water management including river basin management of flood control, prevention of water waste; promotion of assessment of environmental impact of water resources development projects;

(d) Lithosphere

Trends and problems: Environmental impacts resulting from increased mineral extraction, especially by surface mining and quarrying, and from mining of coal, tar sands and oil shales, and disposal of waste; environmental hazards caused by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tidal waves and landslides;

Priority for action: Encouragement of technology for economic use of minerals, including recycling; further development of methods of environmental impact assessment of mineral resource extraction; further development and promotion of improved methods for rehabilitation of land following mineral extraction, and satisfactory disposal or reutilization of wastes generated by human activities; further development of early-warning system for volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tidal waves;

(e) Terrestrial biota and bioproductive systems

Trends and problems: Mounting world food demand only partially satisfied because of inadequacies of production and distribution; continued severe soil degradation and Desertification as a result of inappropriate agricultural practices, erosion, and deforestation; loss of agricultural land as a result of urbanization, adverse impacts on land and water resources from increasing land-use conflicts between agricultural products, fuelwood and other energy crops, protected areas and human settlements; adverse effects of slash-and-burn agriculture or other inappropriate agricultural practices; loss of potentially valuable genetic resources, including wild flora and fauna, as a result of deforestation and use and commeciallization of endangered specless; adverse impacts of improper or increased use of fertilizers and pesticides; depletion of wetlands;

Priority for Actions: Monitoring and assessment of land conditions and capability in developing countries; monitoring and assessment of tropical ecosystems including changes in forest cover; formulation and promotion of programme activities for sustainable management of soils, tropical forests, genetic resources and for combating desertification; development of environmentally sound farming and forestry practices, including agroforestry, intergrated pest management and proper use of fertilizers; preventing of post-harvest food losses; reutilization of aagricultural and agro-industrial residues; development of appropriate International procedures and instruments for handling and use of and international trade in pesticides; promotion of implementation of national and regional plans of action following the world Conservation Strategy; protection of wetlands and the designation of biosphere reserves; promotion of planning of urban development taking into account the needs of agricultural development and conservation of natural resources;

(f) Population and human settlements

Trends and problems; Continued growth of human population despite some decline in the rate of world population increase; high rate of urbanization that outstrips the capacity of Government to provide essential services in urban centres; growth of slums; disruption of rural communities and major inadequacies in rural services; environmental degradation due to the distortion of traditional patterns of pastoral nomadism;

Priority for action : Research into the interrelationship between population growth and the environment; development and promotion of application of guidelines for environmentally sound planning or rural and urban settlements, including provision of services and infrasturcture; improvement of methods for safe disposal and re-use of urban wastes; social and environmental support for the nomads;

(g) Health

Trends and problems: Continued massive prevalence of infections and parasitic diseases, malnutrition, inadequate safe water supplies, and lack of sanitation and food safety in developing countries; increased resistance of pathogens or their intermediary agents to chemical control; increase in disease incidence associated with development schemes; increasing number and prevalence of potentially toxic chemicals and residual micro-pollutants in the living and working environments; illnesses related to life-styles and the working environment; continued danger from trade in hazardous substances and inadequacies in their safe disposal;

Priority for action: Development of environmental health measures including methods for the environmental control of disease vectors and parasites, and for improvement of sanitation in settlements, and improvement of hygiene, especially in developing countries; continued monitoring, notably in the Global Environmental Monitoring system, and preparation of procedures, principles and guide lines within the International Programme of Chemical Safety; development and promotion of the application of procedures, principles or guidelines for safe trade, handling and transport of hazardous substances and disposal of hazardous waste; follow-up to the list of dangerous substances and processes prepared by the United Nations Environment Programme;

(h) Energy

Trends and problems: Environmental impacts of continued increase in demand for fuelwood, expanding nuclear energy programmes and waste generated in the production of energy; increasing use of coal; positive and negative aspects of intensified development and use of new and renewable sources of energy, and increase in energy plantations; some success in the development of energy conservation programmes;

Priority for action: Support for reafforestation policies in developing countries, including encouragement of the use of fast-growing species; promotion of improved energy efficiency and conservation method; development and promotion of guide lines for environmentally sound development of new and renewable sources of energy, and of nuclear energy; promotion of global strategies for conservation and diversification;

(i) Industry and other economic development

Trends and problems: Continuing risks of serious pollution and natural resources degradation form inappropriate industrial development and existing industries, despite some progress in the development of low and non-waste technology and of improved systems of pollution in industry and other programmes of economic development; inadequate environmental consideration in the siting and technologies of industrial and other economic activities, and in international trade and investments;

Priority for action: Development and promotion of guidelines for assessment of environmental impacts of industrial and other economic development (planning, siting, construction and operational control), for the improvement of the human environment, and for the rational use of national resources with special emphasis on the development of non-waste and low-waste technologies, preparation of principles or guidelines for environmental management of industry for the transport, handling (including storage) and disposal of toxic and dangerous waste, and for integration of environmental consideration in the development process; evolution of principles, guidelines or codes of conduct for promotion of environmentally sound practices in international trade and investments; improved in the access to technical achievements which are of practical promise for the management of the environment;

(j) Peace, security and the environment

Trends and problems: The continuing increase in the production, stock-piling and risk of use of weapons of mass destruction and the development of new types of chemical and bacteriological weapons not only pose a major threat to the environment and even to life on earth, but also compete for limited resources that could be better use for constructive purposes;

Priority for action : In support of the continuing efforts in the United Nations General Assembly, and especially in its special session on disarmanent and disarmament Committee, to ensure that the environmental implication of existing and new types of armaments and warfare are taken into account;


Basic orientations of the United Nations

Environment Programme for 1982-1992

1. Considers that, on the basis of the new perceptions described in section II, the United Nations Environment Programme, which is the global environmental organization at Government level, in keeping with its mandate and with the support of organizations of the United Nations system, should focus its attention on three major area and should:

(a) Stimulate, co-ordinate and catalyse monitoring and assessment of environmental problems of world-wide concern and initiate can co-ordinate international co-operation in dealing with such problems;

(b) Promote and co-ordinate appropriate policies and programmes for rational resource and environmental management as an integral part of economic and social development with particular attention to the needs of developing countries;

(c) Promote, co-ordinate and direct activities in the fields of information, education, training and national institution-building especially for developing countries, as well as the further development of environmental law and guidelines and methodologies of environmental management, and where supplementary funds are available, assist in the implementation of these activities;

2. Further considers that with these three overall basic orientations in mind, the objectives of the Programme should be;

(a) In the area of environment assessment;

(i) To improve early warning indicators of significant environmental changes;

(ii) To improve the planning and co-ordination of monitoring at the global and regional levels;

(iii) To produce concrete assessment statement for important environmental problems and their human health, social and economic implications;

(iv) To establish better links between the Global Environmental Monitoring System, the international Referral system for sources, of environmental information, the International Register of Potentially Toxic Chemicals and national and International data centres;

(v) To promote the establishment of reliable global, regional and national environment reporting statistics and state of the environment reporting as a basis for evaluating major trends and deciding on any necessary action;

(b) In the area of environmental management;

(j) To promote environmentally sound patterns of development and to participate in the implementation of the International Development Strategy for the Third United Nations Development Decade;

(ii) To strive for the improvement of cost/benefit and cost/effectiveness evaluation of environmental measures, environmental assessment of development activities and integrated physical planning for rational use of natural resources;

(iii) To promote the adoption and implementation by states of legal and other

appropriate instruments for assessing the effects on the environment of

potentially harmful activities under their jurisdiction and control, as well as the dissemination of information and the public use thereof;

(iv) To promote the development of more cost-effective solutions to environmental management problems, in particular such solutions adapted to the needs of developing countries;

(v) To develop guidelines for environmentally sound development planning;

(vi) To promote and continue to contribute to the activities of the United Nations system in the area of the interrelation-ship among population, resources, environment and development;

(c) In the area of supporting measures;

(i) To strengthen the existing arrangements within the United Nations Environment Programme and between it and the United Nations Development Programme and other organizations of the United Nations System with a view to enhancing the capacity of developing countries, including methodologies of sound environmental management, as part of their sustainable economic and social development;

(ii) To promote and facilitate the strengthening, within countries of institutional arrangements for effective assessment of environmental impact of development and environment management;

(iii) To promote, co-ordinate and catalyse, in co-operation with relevant institutions of the United Nations system, activities in the area of environmental education and training and public awareness with particular emphasis on:

A Application of new education methods and better teacher training programmes through research and Institution-building and the integration of an environmental component into school curricula, and seeking to improve the quality of education and training through making adaptations to existing facilities;

b. Increased training of specialists in various fields of environmental activities

c. Better dissemination of information to the media, the general public and scientific audiences;

d. Integration of an environmental component in the training of enterprise managers, technicians, skilled workers and decision-makers concerned with environmental and resource management;

(iv) To encourage national and regional arrangements of the provision of information and crucial and emerging environmental issues, for examples on the use of technology and products condemned in the country or origin;

(v) To support Governments and non-governmental and youth organizations in their efforts to increase environmental awareness and to encourage Governments to provide for strong public participation in the planning and implementation of environmental activities;

(vi) To encourage and facilitate the development of legal instruments relating to the environment at the national and international levels and to monitor their implementation; and, within its mandate, to promote the development of further guidelines, principles or agreements and to facilitate their application in areas of global and regional environmental concern in co-operation with the responsible international organizations;

(vii) To encourage the further examination of economic measures, such as pricing policies, incentives and pollution and effluent charges which may be applied to complement environmental regulations;

3. Considers also that in pursuing the above mentioned objectives the United Nations Environment Programme should be guided by the major environmental trends, potential problems and priorities for action identified in section III, and should concentrate in particular on: promotion of land and water management, including control of desertification and deforestation: protection of natural resources; promotion of the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade; promotion of new and renewable sources of energy; promotion of regional seas programmes; prevention of environmental disturbances from air pollution; promotion of chemical safety and control of hazardous substances;


  • Institutional arrangements for the United Nations Environmental Programme
  • Planning and implementation of environmental activities