Stockholm Declaration 1972

Stockholm Declaration conference in the year of 1972 is known as the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, held on 5th - 16th June 1972.  Motto of the conference was “Only one Earth”
Stockholm Declaration conference in the year of 1972 is known as the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, held on 5th - 16th June 1972.  Motto of the conference was “Only one Earth”
Stockholm Declaration 1972
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The term “sustainable development” was used at the time of the Cocoyoc Declaration on Environment and Development in the early 1970s. Since then, it has become the trademark of international organisations dedicated to achieving environmentally benign or beneficial development.

Sustainable development is essentially a policy and strategy for continued economic and social development without detriment to the environment and natural resources on the quality of which continued activity and further development depend. Therefore, while thinking of the development measures, the need of the present and the ability of the future to meet its own needs and requirements have to be kept in view. While thinking of the present, the future should not be forgotten. We owe a duty to future generations and for a bright today, a bleak tomorrow cannot be countenanced. We must learn from our experiences, mistakes from the past, so that they can be rectified for a better present and the future. It cannot be lost sight of that while today is yesterday’s tomorrow, it is tomorrow’s yesterday.

“Environmental Law” is an instrument to protect and improve the environment and to control or prevent any act or omission polluting or likely to pollute the environment.

Stockholm Declaration 

This conference is known as the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, held on 5th – 16th June 1972. 

Motto of the conference was “Only one Earth”

It was the UNs first major conference on international environmental issues, and marked a turning point in the development of international environmental politics. 

Reasons for the 1972: – 

Output: – 

1. Stockholm Declaration 

2. UNEP 

3. Framework for Environmental Action 

  1. Stockholm Declaration: The meeting agreed upon a declaration, called Stockholm Declaration, containing 26 Principles concerning the environment and development. The concept of sustainable development received impetus in the declaration. 
  1. UNEP : The Stockholm Conference also led to the creation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in December 1972 to coordinate global efforts to promote sustainability and safeguard the natural environment. 
  1. Framework for Environmental Action: The conference also produced the “Framework for Environmental Action,” an action plan containing 109 specific recommendations related to human settlements, natural-resource management, pollution, educational and social aspects of the environment, development, and international organizations.

Stockholm Declaration: Detail Analysis

 In the declaration common outlook and common principles was considered in order to inspire and guide the people of the world in the preservation and enhancement of the human environment.

  1. The declaration proclaims that man is both creator and moulder of his environment. Which gives him physical sustenance and affords him opportunity for intellectual, moral, social and spiritual growth. 
  2. The protection and improvement of the human environment is a major issue which affects the well-being of peoples and economic development throughout the world; it is the urgent desire of the peoples of the whole world and the duty of all Governments.
  3. Man has to constantly sum up experience and go on discovering, inventing, creating and advancing. In our time man’s capability to transform his surroundings, if used wisely, can bring to all peoples the benefits of development and the opportunity to enhance the quality of life.
  4. In developing countries most of the environmental problems are caused by under-development. Millions continue to live far below the minimum levels required for a decent human existence, deprived of adequate food and clothing, shelter and education, health and sanitation.
  5. The natural growth of population continuously presents problems for the preservation of the environment, and adequate policies and measures should be adopted, as appropriate, to face these problems. Of all things in the world, people are the most precious.

Principles of the Stockholm declaration

The 26 principles on the human environment are dealt with in great detail. For better understanding, the principles are grouped on their applicability and enforceability. They are as follows:

Stockholm Declaration 1972


  • Principle 1: Rights and Responsibilities for protecting the environment – Humans have the right to use and enjoy nature. The right to enjoy nature is not unfettered, it is coextensive with the duty to protect it. Art. 21 of the constitution also safeguards the fundamental right of a healthy environment. This principle also explicitly bars discriminatory laws.
  • Principle 15: Human settlement and Urbanization – Planned settlements and urbanization are required. They reduce the adverse effects on the environment. The goal is to secure maximum benefits for all through planning. All discriminatory plans are also barred.

Sustainable development:

  • Principle 2: Duty to protect natural resources – Natural resources are limited. We must use natural resources carefully. Preservation of resources depends on effective planning and management.
  • Principle 3: Duty to preserve renewable resources – Although renewable resources are not depletable, their preservation is necessary for their quality.
  • Principle 4: Wildlife Conservation – A combination of factors is responsible for endangering wildlife. Humans have a special responsibility for protecting wildlife. The inclusion of conservation of wildlife in economic planning leads to sustainable development.
  • Principle 5: Duty to preserve non-renewable resources – Non-renewable resources are exhaustible. They are valuable resources. Exercising care and caution is necessary to prevent them from depletion
  • Principle 13: Rational Management of Resources – States should adopt rational methods to manage the resources and to improve the environment. An integrated and coordinated approach is preferable.
  • Principle 14: Rational Planning – Conflicts between development and conservation are reconciled with rational planning. Development and conservation must go hand in hand.
  • Reflection on customary international law position (Principle 21)- States have the absolute authority to use natural resources according to their policies. However, their policies shouldn’t violate the principles of international law and cause damage to other states outside its jurisdiction.

Preventive actions:

  • Principle 6: Management of pollution – Pollution is harmful to the environment. Discharging toxins and other substances in large quantities are harmful to the ecosystem. Both the citizens and the states should play an active role in reducing the dumping of harmful substances.
  • Principle 7: Management of sea pollution – The states should reduce sea pollution by taking necessary steps to prevent substances hazardous to human health, marine life, and the legitimate uses of seas.
  • Principle 8: Social and Economic development – The improvement of social and economic conditions is necessary for a better living and working environment. Improvements shouldn’t affect the environment in any way.
  • Principle 18: Application of science – Science and technology are indispensable in today’s life. They are used in almost every industry. Science and technology are also applicable to the conservation of the environment. It is useful for identifying and controlling environmental risks. They are useful for finding solutions for environmental issues.
  • Compensation to victims (principle 22)- The States should join to further the scope of international law for prescribing liability for those harming the environment. States should also come together to compensate victims of environmental pollution or damage. This prionciple lays the foundation for the concept of “ Polluter pays Principle”.


  • Principle 24: Cooperation with nations – Although each state has exclusive jurisdiction to legislate on internal matters, international cooperation is necessary for the holistic improvement of the environment. States must recognize that environmental problems affect all the states equally. By multilateral and bilateral agreements states can control, prevent, and reduce environmental risks.
  • Principle 25: Coordination with nations – Coordination between states is crucial for alleviating the existing conditions. The states can jointly coordinate actions and plans for improving existing environmental conditions.

Other principles

  • Principle 11: Environmental Policy – The environmental policy of every nation should be progressive. The policies of every state must enhance and complement each other. The policies shouldn’t restrict or adversely affect developing countries. National and international organizations should strive for better living conditions for all without affecting the environment.
  • Principle 19: Education in environmental matters – Education is one of the tools to spread awareness about the pathetic state of the environment. The underprivileged, poor, illiterate should have access to education. Education broadens the mind. Awareness about the existing conditions is necessary so that people can jointly tackle environmental matters.
  • Principle 20: Expanding scientific research – Researching and developing methods nationally and internationally is important to tackle environmental problems. There must exist a system where information and research can flow easily across nations. Countries must also control their spending on scientific research without burdening the economy.
  • Principle 9: Environmental Deficiencies – Natural disasters and underdevelopment lead to deficiencies. Navigating through such deficiencies is difficult. Requesting technological and financial assistance to supplement the local efforts leads to a quicker and effective remedy.
  • Principle 10: Stability of prices and incomes – Stability in the prices of essential commodities and stability of income is essential for the environmental management of developing countries. Economic factors are also part of the environmental process.
  • Principle 12: Education on environmental protection – Environmental protection is the need of the hour. Every citizen should understand the importance of environmental protection. Adoption of a suitable medium like social media, print media, etc is crucial to spread awareness about environmental protection.
  • Principle 16: Population Control – In areas where the population is excessive and is likely to affect the environment, the states can implement policies to control the growth of the population. These policies shouldn’t violate basic human rights. In today’s world overpopulation is one of the major reasons for the depletion of natural resources.
  • Principle 17: Setting up of national institutions – States should establish national bodies for the control and management of environmental resources within the state.
  • Principle 23: Implementing a national agenda – The states may find that certain procedures and rules may not align the value system of the country. In that case, the states need not follow such a procedure. The states are also exempted if such procedures cause unwarranted social costs.

Principle 26: Ban on nuclear weapons – nuclear weapons are the most destructive weapons. They cause more damage to the environment than any other weapon. All the nations should come together to ban nuclear weapons.


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