chapter
Some Landmark Events
Pages 4

Experts on the Scientific Basis for Rational Use and Conservation of the Resources of the Biosphere is held in Paris; it is a turning point in the emergence of an environmental perspective in the community of international organizations

1970 Earth Day: In the United States, 20 million people across the country participate in peaceful demonstrations and teach-ins on Earth Day (April 21); this marks the birth of the modern environmental movement in that country

1971 MAB: The Man and the Biosphere program is founded by Unesco; it will have a major role in promoting international scientific cooperation on environmental problems

1971 Thor HeyerdahFs Ra II: During the voyage of his small boat Ra II across the North Atlantic, explorer Thor Heyerdahl finds all but a small part of the ocean filled with lumps of floating asphalt, the result of oil pollution from tankers

1971 Founex Report: A meeting at Founex, Switzerland, called to prepare for the following year's Stockholm Conference, results in the first major exposition of the links between development and environmental protection in poorer countries

1972 Blueprint for Survival: A manifesto signed by 36 of Britain's leading thinkers is published in Teddy Goldsmith's journal The Ecologist. The "Blueprint for Survival," warns of the "breakdown of society and irreversible disruption of life-supporting systems on this planet" and calls for a steady-state society

1972 The Limits to Growth: The Club of Rome, a group of leaders and thinkers from 40 countries, issues this report written by Donella and Dennis Meadows. Based on a pioneering U.S. project of computerized global modeling, it argues that if present population, food, pollution, and resource trends continue, the limits to growth on the planet will be reached within the next 100 years; like the "Blueprint," it calls for a state of global equilibrium and stirs much controversy

1972 Stockholm Conference: The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment is held in Stockholm, Sweden; it results in creation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); Maurice Strong of Canada chairs the conference and will be appointed UNEP's first Executive Director. A simultaneous Environment Forum is an important step in recognizing the key role of nongovernmental organizations, and sets a precedent for future international meetings

1974 CITES: The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora is opened for signature in Washington; it is an important step in controlling illegal commerce in ivoiy, furs, and other products of endangered species

1974 Cocoyoc Declaration: A symposium in Cocoyoc, Mexico, identifies maldistribution of resources as a key factor in environmental degradation. The UN-sponsored meeting, chaired by economist Barbara Ward, calls for development action focused on filling basic human needs

1974 Rome Food Conference: The World Food Conference is held in Rome; this UN meeting lays the groundwork for a strategy to attack the world food problem and results in creation of the World Food Council and World Food Programme

1976 Habitat Conference: Held in Vancouver, Canada, Habitat: The United Nations Conference on Human Settlements focuses world attention on the plight of cities and results in establishment of a new Habitat Centre in the UN system

1977 Green Belt Movement: In Kenya, Wangari Matthai organizes the pioneering Green Belt Movement to plant trees

1977 Desertification Conference: The United Nations Conference on Desertification, held in Nairobi, Kenya, raises awareness of desertification - the destruction of the biological productivity of the land which ultimately leads to a desert-like condition - and produces an international plan of action

1977 Water Conference: The United Nations Water Conference, held in Mar del Plata, Argentina, sets a goal of providing clean water and adequate sanitation to all in the world by 1990; this will prove to be far from realistic, but the meeting points attention to the central role of water in public health and environmental planning

1979 Greenhouse Effect: A World Climate Conference in Geneva, sponsored by the World Meteorological Organization, concludes that the "greenhouse effect" from increased buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere demands urgent international action. With few exceptions, government leaders and the press will not take this seriously until the late 1980s

1980 Brandt Commission Report: The Independent Commission on International Development Issues, chaired by former West German Chancellor Willy Brandt, issues its report, North-South: A Program for Survival, which recommends a massive increase in aid to developing countries and also calls for environmental impact assessments of development proposals

1980 World Conservation Strategy: The World Conservation Strategy is released by IUCN, UNEP, and WWF. Bold in its purpose and scope, it calls for "global coordinated efforts" for sustainable development, based on "will and determination"

1980 Global 2000: The Global 2000 Report to the President, commissioned by U.S. President Jimmy Carter, is widely publicized; it projects what the world might be like if present trends continue and calls for "vigorous and determined new initiatives" to deal with environmental deterioration of "alarming proportions"

1982 Charter for Nature: The UN General Assembly adopts a World Charter for Nature prepared by IUCN

1984 Bhopal: A leak of deadly methyl isocyanate at a Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, kills some 2,800 people and injures tens of thousands of others, many mortally; it is the world's worst industrial accident to date