The General Assembly of the United Nations decided to convene a United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, to be held in Stockholm, on June 5-16, 1972. To mark this occasion, the Pakistan Post Office is issuing a Commemorative Postage Stamp of 20-Paisa denomination on 5th June. 1972.
Looking back from his new vantage point in outer space, man sees his earth as a tiny ball floating in the void. The oceans, the continents, the clouds that mark its precious atmosphere are visible; national boundaries cannot be seen. “Like it or not, we are all travelling together on a common planet,” the then Secretary-General U Thant had said, “We have no rational alternative but to work together to make it an environment in which we and our children can live full and peaceful lives, and that it has become clear that we all live in one biosphere within which space and resour-ces, though vast, are limited.
This was not the first time that such warnings had been sounded in the United Nations. Some 23 years ago, the potential perils to the human race were stressed at the first World Scientific Conference convened by the United Nations at Lake Success in 1949. The need for a world conference on human environment can be assessed from a sampling of the evidence as follows
-Reliance of modern technology on combustion of fossil fuels has brought a 10 per cent increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide over the past century.
-Modern technology has increased the amount of waste products which became pollutants.
-All coastal nations use the sea for disposal of waste ; million of gallons of raw sewage, million of tons of garbage dumped from barges, uncertain amounts of low-level radio-active wastes disposed of through pipelines or in sealed containers. Water used to cool power plant turbines returns to rivers, adding heat pollution.
-Industries often create serious prob-lems through pollution of air and water, damage to agricultural lands and destruction of scenery.
-The spread of the urban-industrial network with its associated transport facilities consumes space at a high rate.
-Some 150 species of birds and ani-mals have become extinct because of human activities, and about 1 ,000 species of wild animals are now con-sidered rare or endangered.
— With the accelerating growth of the world’s population and rapid urbani-zation more of the world’s inhabi-tants live in over crowded conditions.
— Some chemicals aiding agricultural development and health protection have adverse side effects recognized long after they have been in use.
— Large-scale construction of dams, reservoirs, canals, power stations and other installations risk undesired effects including siltation, loss of delta lands, salinization, spread of water-borne diseases and displace-ment of people.
Today the world is aware of the need for global defence of the environ-ment as a whole. Separate aspects of the problem, however, have concerned the United Nations and the specialized agencies for many years. The wide variety of United Nations economic and social efforts has included activities relating directly or indirectly to the environment. Many United Nations bodies and specialized agencies are in-volved in the campaign to Improve the environment, and activities in this field have been increasing in recent years. UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations Secretariat divisions carry out many projects and services concerned with fields such as resources and transport; housing, building and planing; social development; population; public administration; and science and technology.
UNESCO: The United Nations Edu-cational, Scientific and Cultural Orga-nization has carried out environmental studies since its inception, and a separate ecology and conservation section was set up in 1961.
IMCO:The Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization has a direct responsibility for placing restraints on contamination of the sea by ships and other equipment. FAQ: Many activities of the Food and Agriculture Organization have a direct bearing on conservation of soil, plants and animals and marine life.
WHO:The World Health Organization has set up international reference centres to assist Governments in identifying, measuring and evaluating air and water pollutants, and to aid in solving waste disposal problems through such methods as simple processes for reduction of solid wastes.
WMO : The World Meteorological Organization’s World Weather Watch, initiated by the 1963 World Meteorological Congress, is a far-reaching pro-gramme for development of a world weather service integrating national and international activities, including the use of observation satellites. IAEA:The International Atomic Energy Agency has a continuing programme to combat radioactive pollution caused by nuclear power plants and other peaceful uses of atomic energy.
ILO: The International Labour Organization which is seeking to protect workers against pollution in the working environment recently has undertaken projects on atmospheric control in mining operations. ICAO The International Civil Aviation Organization, which has been studying Sonic Boom “ from supersonic aircraft and airport noise—has made progress in establishing standard procedures for measuring aircraft noise.
The past, present and planned United Nations activities to preserve life on earth have demonstrated that all nations have a common interest in defending man’s environment an interest that bridges geographical or ideological divisions. In the past, common property resources such as air, water and open space were considered resources owned by no one; today they tend to be treated more and more as resources owned equally by all and their uses are increasingly subject to standards and prohibitions by Governments at local, national and international levels.