A video shot introducing powerful words of the 1972 Declaration on the Human Environment. Credit: UNEP

Stockholm+50 kicked off!

Efforts to boost ambition and action to achieve a sustainable planet revived are being revitalised at the international meeting being held in Stockholm, the reminiscence of success 50 years back

World leaders and representatives from government, business, international organizations, civil society and youth are gathering in Sweden over these two days, June 2 and 3, for Stockholm+50_an international meeting to drive action towards a healthy planet for prosperity of all.

Co-hosted by Sweden and Kenya, Stockholm+50 will take place under the theme “a healthy planet for the prosperity of all – our responsibility, our opportunity.” The two-day meeting will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, which marked a new era of global cooperation.

At the 1972 conference, 113 countries adopted the Stockholm Declaration and Action Plan for the Human Environment, placing environmental issues at the forefront of international concerns. The conference also led to the creation of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and began an important dialogue between industrialized and developing countries on the links between the environment, economic growth and human well-being.

“Stockholm+50 marks a milestone in our collective journey toward a healthy planet. It offers the opportunity to reflect on, celebrate, and build upon 50 years of environmental action,” UNEP noted in the special website Stockholm+50.

The meeting is evolving around plenary segments, three leadership dialogues, and side events that will focus on the importance of multilateralism in tackling the triple planetary crisis. It will also reinforce the outcomes of the fifth UN Environment Assembly, which took place earlier this year in Nairobi, Kenya.

The triple planetary crisis

The event comes at a crucial time as the Earth is in emergency mode, and urgent action is needed to address the triple planetary crisis. The triple planetary crisis consists of three interlinked issues threatening human and environmental health: climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste.

The climate crisis is causing more frequent extreme weather events such as storms and droughts, which worsen food and water scarcity. Research shows that to stave off a climate catastrophe, the world must halve annual greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 to reach net-zero by 2050.

Human activities have modified 77 per cent of land (excluding Antarctica) and 87 per cent of the ocean. More than two billion hectares of land are degraded due to overuse or mismanagement. and one million species face extinction.

Air pollution, the greatest environmental threat to public health globally, accounts for an estimated 7 million premature deaths every year. 11 million metric tons of plastic waste enter our ocean every year. At the same time, we produce 50 million tons of e-waste.

The goal

Stockholm+50 will help accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals to achieve a healthy planet, which is essential for social and economic progress, well-being, and resilience, UNEP noted.

By gathering a broad set of stakeholders from all around the world, the meeting will emphasize the importance of a multi-actor, multi-sector approach to addressing environmental issues and embody the importance of collaborative action. Stockholm+50 also highlights intergenerational responsibility to protect the Earth and ensure that life support systems are available to all.

For 50 years, the world has come together to confront the planet’s biggest environmental challenges, from eradicating the production of leaded fuel to protecting more than 38,000 species and mending the hole in the ozone layer. This global cooperation has restricted the international trade in mercury, banned hazardous chemicals, and reduced renewable energy prices.

“But 50 years on, the need to accelerate action for the environment, poverty alleviation and human rights is more urgent than ever. Stockholm+50 provides a unique opportunity to be another turning point and steer humanity back on the path to a healthy planet and the prosperity of all,” said UNEP.

What to expect at Stockholm+50

“In Stockholm we need bold actions,” said UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen. “We have to recommend some basic transformations in energy systems, food systems, and how our cities operate. And, of course, in financial systems. So that together we can reach for that long term sustainability and so that the spirit of Stockholm can come together in what we know right now is a divided world – we have only One Earth.”

The meeting will feature four plenary sessions to give leaders the opportunity to outline the bold and urgent action needed to safeguard planetary health and accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. Three leadership dialogues will also shape the outcome of the meeting by generating concrete recommendations for action among all stakeholders.

Hundreds of side events, associated events and webinars, including many held ahead of and after the meeting will address relevant themes of Stockholm+50 and further expand the scope of the conversation.

“Ultimately, the meeting aims to highlight how governments and other stakeholders can mobilize the global community to ensure a healthy planet for the prosperity of all,” said UNEP.

The meeting will be held ahead of World Environment Day 2022 on 5 June, which Stockholm will also host.

Schedule and streaming links

Sources: UNEP/ Stockholm+50