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The World Conservation Strategy

The events referred to above confirmed that environmental issues are systemic and addressing them requires long-term strategies, integrated action and the participation of all countries and all members of society. This was reflected in the World Conservation Strategy (WCS), one of the seminal documents which served to redefine environmentalism post-Stockholm. Launched in 1980 by IUCN, the strategy recognized that addressing environmental problems calls for long-term effort and the integration of environmental and development objectives.

'This is a kind of development that provides real improvements in the quality of human life and at the same time conserves the vitality and diversity of the Earth. The goal is development that will be sustainable. Today it may seem visionary but it is attainable. To more and more people it also appears our only rational option.'

- World Conservation Strategy, IUCN, UNEP and WWF 1980

The WCS envisaged governments in different parts of the world undertaking their own national conservation strategies, meeting one of the objectives of Stockholm to incorporate environment in development planning. Since 1980, more than 75 countries have initiated multi-sector strategies at national, provincial, state and local levels (Lopez Ornat 1996). These are aimed at addressing environmental problems such as land degradation, habitat conversion and loss, deforestation, water pollution and poverty.

World Charter for Nature: general principles
  • The genetic viability on the earth shall not be compromised; the population levels of all life forms, wild and domesticated, must be at least sufficient for their survival, and to this end necessary habitat shall be safeguarded.
  • All areas of the earth, both land and sea, shall be subject to these principles of conservation; special protection shall be given to unique areas, to representative samples of all the different types of ecosystems and to the habitat of rare or endangered species.
  • Ecosystems and organisms, as well as the land, marine and atmospheric resources that are utilized by man [sic], shall be managed to achieve and maintain optimum sustainable productivity, but not in such a way as to endanger the integrity of those other ecosystems or species with which they co-exist.
  • Nature shall be secured against degradation caused by warfare or other hostile activities.
Source: UN 1982