“Changing Course Now”: First UN Environment Conference in Sweden


In the hometown of leading climate activist Greta Thunberg, the two-day environmental summit Stockholm+50 has started.

Sweden’s King Carl XVI. Gustaf welcomed delegations from all over the world to the Stockholm trade fair, where 50 years after the first UN environment conference, the main question is how to speed up the fight against global problems how to increase global warming, species extinction, pollution and littering the planet.

Stockholm was 1972 also the site of the very first UN conference had been concerned with questions of the human environment. The meeting is therefore considered to be the birth of international environmental policy. Among other things, the UN environmental program Unep was launched at that time. Many countries then created environment ministries. There have also been numerous global environmental protection agreements since then.

The 50 conference was a historic event and much has been done since then, King Carl said Gustaf in his opening speech. In view of the climate and environmental crisis, he added: “But let me make it clear: we don’t have 50 more years to reverse the trend.” According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), time is running out. “If we want to limit global warming, then the next few years are crucial.”

“Global well-being at risk”

UN Secretary General António Guterres also pointed out the progress made since 50, for example in saving the ozone layer. “But today, global well-being is at risk, in large part because we have not delivered on our environmental promises,” he said. With increasing population and greater prosperity, humanity’s ecological footprint has become unbearably large.

“Earth’s natural systems cannot keep up with our demands,” Guterres said. “We must now change course and end our senseless and suicidal war on nature.” He called on G20 country governments to phase out coal energy completely by 2030. He called on financial actors to stop financing fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy instead.

Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson saw the world at a crucial crossroads, where the implementation of policies will be accelerated must. The climate and environmental crisis affects everyone, but the poorest are hit hardest, she said. No one should be left behind in the green transition, and the fight for climate and environment should not be forgotten as a result of the war in Ukraine. Her country’s message is clear, Andersson said: “Going green is not only possible – it is the way to create growth, jobs and prosperity for everyone.”

“A healthy planet for prosperity for all”

Sweden is co-hosting the summit with Kenya and in cooperation with the United Nations. Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has called for all countries to aim to adopt a comprehensive and transformative package of pro-environmental actions by the next World Climate Change Conference (COP27) later this year in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt to have developed.

Under the motto “A healthy planet for the prosperity of all – our responsibility, our chance” at Stockholm+50 to one 50 year of global environmental policy to be celebrated. On the other hand, according to the organizers, the meeting should serve, among other things, as a stepping stone for the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement. Messages and recommendations should come out, for example on the conversion of the energy sector and the food industry.

New commitments and resolutions were not expected, which had previously led to criticism from climate and environmentalists. They complained that nothing concrete could be expected and that there was nothing to celebrate in view of the climate crisis. The climate reporter for Swedish radio, Erika Bjerström, also addressed critical words to her country. “What the world didn’t need was another climate talk show, which is this,” she said. “Concrete resolutions and measures are needed.”

Andersson countered. “This is not a meeting that sets new goals, because the world has already set ambitious goals,” she said ahead of the summit. Rather, the purpose of Stockholm+50 is to do more and more quickly after the conference. (dpa)

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