International System and Environmental Issues

Environmental issues arose across the world after the Industrial Revolution, during the 19th CE, there was a wide need for a change and development at that time. People desired for a speedy process of production and because of this, it set into motion changes which were unexpected.

Smoke was released across Europe and North America. Plains had turned into deserts, and various other issues had cropped up in USA and Canada too. It was only by the half of the 20th CE, there arose a concern for air and water pollution. The same cannot be said for land pollution, it only came into limelight after the introduction of pesticides. People were overjoyed with the agricultural revolution that they forgot to notice its defects, it was Rachel Carson who brought in the negative impacts of the usage of pesticides in her book ‘Silent Spring’. This gave the environmental movement a boost too. It paved way for a great number of researches across the world.

This made the people the need to have a world wide conference to discuss about the environmental issues and a need to change them. And thus the first global conference was held, it is named as Stockholm Conference. This conference was a pivotal event in the growth of the global concern for environment. This was the first time, countries of the world came to discuss the problems and make up good measures to correct them.

These were the following outcomes of the Stockholm conference

  • Firstly, people were of the perception that humanity and environment were different and had no connections. This was not the case. After the conference it was made sure that such a thinking has to be shifted off people’s mind in order to save our environment.
  • Stockholm created a comparison between the developed and developing countries. There were arguments from both sides but it was considered and decisions were made too. The least developed and developing countries were given priority in determining the international policy.
  • The importance and role played by NGO’s gave more importance to governmental and intergovernmental organizations.
  • The introduction of United Nations Environmental Program. This program was the best possible solution to the problems of the global world.

         After the 1980’s there was a second wave of the environmental movement. This movement focused more on the complex issues and highlighted unresolved ones. Immediate action was taken for this, and this time it was more suitable and better understood than the previous times. Examples are World commission on Environment and Development(1986), Rio Conference(1992), Kyoto Protocol(1997) and the Johannesburg summit (2002).

The World Commission on Environment and Development is popularly known as Brundtland Commission. The commission focused on Sustainable development. The commission wanted to put forward new  ideas that could create growth and sustainable development across the country. This promoted the Earth Summit of 1992 Rio de Janerio.

Major outcomes of Rio Summit are

  • The Framework Convention on Climate Change
  • The Convention on Biological Diversity
  • Agenda 21
  • The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development
  • Forest Principle

The Rio conference gave birth to the Kyoto Protocol, which was signed in 1997. 160 countries, especially the developed ones came together and promised to cut off their level of emission of greenhouse gases. But this wasn’t the case for every countries, the United States of America withdrew due to its pressure. The next Summit was held in Johannesburg, its main focus was also on sustainable development, many new policies and timetables were made but nothing was quite effective as they had calculated it to be.

Nation states wanted a plan which would help their self- interest rather than the interests as a whole. If we look closely we can see that the globe is divided into two, one set of countries are developed and they add to most of the greenhouse emissions, while the other set of countries are struggling to feed their citizens. And so when policies are to be made, it is to be ensured that it is accordingly to their interests.These were the recent changes brought in by the international systems