Peoples' movements and protests




The emergence of popular
participation in world politics

United Nations Conference on
Human Environment 1972


pdf version

By Tord Björk


Department of Political Science, University of Stockholm
Seminar Teacher & Advisor: Kristina Riegert
Seminar Assistant: Lisbeth Aggestam
Fall 1996



- Aim

- The question

- Limitations

- Theory

- Methods

- Informal actions and actors


UNCHE prehistory

- To Look at or Act

- Turning international initiatives towards action 1970

- Shaping the conference or mobilising people 1971

- The Semi-official and American intervention in Stockholm

- The final battle for ideological territory

Patterned turbulence at Stockholm

- Free speech and control of privileged space and
public debate

- Drugs

- Whaling

- Ecocide

- Population

- The actors

The follow-up and stalemate outcome

- The issues

- The actors



Appendix i




Power relations across national boundaries have an increasing importance in todays world. Economical, ecological, social and security issues call for solutions that go further than governmental decisions.


The aim of this paper is to account for and analyse popular and other non-state actors direct interaction with formal inter-governmental negotiations in building the momentum towards and at the United Nations Conference on Human Environment in Stockholm (UNCHE) 1972. This will be used to put some light on global governance and partly international regime theories of world politics.


The question

The question is if non-state actors influenced the formal level of the UN-system and the participating governments and if this changed form and content of world politics.



When accounting for direct popular interaction with inter-governmental negotiations, no limitations in the interstate pre-history of UNCHE have been made as this inter-action has been very limited. The main focus is how nonstate actors as a whole as autonomous groups other actors developed capacity and influenced the UNCHE process.

Those actors that during a long time and also in the final end had impact are especially focused upon. When looking at issues, particularly the conference days 5th to 16th of June are important. Only those issues are included that caused most controversy or were there is a sharp contrast between on one hand the follow-up among the formal governmental policies and international regimes and on the other hand informal popular movements and other nongovernmental actors.



To explain world politics different schools have developed. Realist and neorealist theories see states as the only actor of importance in world politics and cooperation or conflict as a result of the power relation between them giving the most powerful, or ”hegemon” a leader role. These theories excludes from the outset any crucial role to popular or other non-state actors or to international institutions. In a time were such actors seems to play a progressively important role in international politics have other theories developed. Here mainly the theory of global governance will be considered with some reference to the widely used theory focusing on international regimes. Both encompass governmental and non-governmental actors cooperating without any central authority.

The difference is that international regimes are defined as converging in a given area of international relations (note 1) or what has also been called an ”issue-area” while global governance (note 2) is not limited to a single-sphere of efforts. ”It refers also to arrangements that prevail in the lacunae between regimes and, perhaps more importantly, to the principles, norms, rules, and procedures that come into play when two or more regimes overlap, conflict, or otherwise require arrangements that facilitate accommodation among the competing interests” (note 3). Where international regime theorists focus on changes in specific issue-areas of international politics global governance theory points at the process as a whole in an era of ”turbulence in world politics”. Here a bifurcation of global structures is seen to take place. A state-centric world is replaced by two increasingly autonomous worlds. Alongside the traditional interstate system has a multi-centric world of hundreds of thousands actors emerged, replete with processes and decision rules of its own. This multitude of non-state actors individually and sometimes jointly compete, conflict, cooperate, or otherwise interact also with the states and their inter-state world. This turbulence global governance theory is concerned about publics and societal institutions but less with decision-making in the multi-centric system and more with aggregation. A skill revolution at micro-level is seen to have taken place making aggregation possible at macro-level which makes a challenging of the authority of the state possible (note 4).

Apart from these two autonomous variables further variables can be of importance in the multi-centric pole of global governance. Business and organisations working in their interest with its base in the market is one autonomous variable that is often included in different schools of thought. Another is elaborated by theories emphasising the role of social movements. This school is almost only limited to the national level but gives an empirical and theoretical background for delineating one possible autonomous variable that can be tested also at global level. The maybe most consensual definition have been formulated by Raschke and emphasise popular participation, challenging of established social roles, a certain duration over time and multiple ways of action promoting or hindering social change (note 5). Here specific projects within such social movements will be called popular initiatives or Popular organisations, POs. Social movement observers often points out that a theory in its full sense is not possible to develop about social movements as the phenomena is so in constant flux but prefer to call their theoretical attempts provisory theory or protheory (note 6). At the global level Nerfin and others have developed normative notions of delineating between governments, business and POs (note 7). The fact that very small resources especially at the global level have been given to research on popular initiatives and social movements and the theoretical and empirical body of established knowledge is small should no refrain us from looking at this factor and see if it is a variable of importance.

A strong empirical evidence for international regimes is the area of environmental issues (note 8). In this area there are many regimes. They have developed early and so has attempts to coordinate different environmental policies internationally. Here special UN theme conferences in Stockholm 1972 and Rio de Janeiro 1992 have been important.

This paper examines the first UN environmental conference held in Stockholm 1972 which is also the first broader theme conference with public participation held by the UN. Most observers today of UN conferences including nongovernmental activities account for the institutional results or account for changes in the formal relations between UN and NGOs (note 9). There is a tendency in studies even when specifically emphasising the role of NGOs to describe that extra-ordinary things happened at Stockholm but not to account for them (note 10). Only a research that goes beyond this formal level and also account more fully for the non-state actors can give us knowledge of how politics actually is acted out. In this way we can come a bit closer to the question whether we should focus on global governance or international regimes to get an accurate picture of world politics today.



To account for both the open public and more hidden course of events in the preparations and during UNCHE different methods is necessary to choose. One has been to look for literature assessing the UN-NGO relations and popular activities at Stockholm. Almost all academic articles and books cross-referring each other have been checked together with articles by actors in scientific and UN magazines, in all some 60 titles. Specially helpful have been biographies and detailed journalistic books about the event accounting for many informal processes. The event most controversial and central to much of the NGO-UN relations was Environmental Forum. Here four persons active in different central positions have been interviewed. To account for the local popular movements and their preparation and participation four more persons have been interviewed and some internal documents and mainly unpublished studies on the Stockholm alternative movement been checked. A more systematic control of all the facts with a larger number of persons have not been possible within the scope of this study. As some of the persons interviewed at the time held quite contradictory opinions and the literature also covers a broad range of opinions, a certain degree of balanced account is achieved. If the result of perceptions of others has strongly influenced the course of events, such descriptions have been included. This as informal processes are a main focus of the study and even if these perceptions have not been possible to substantiate as true descriptions of the other actor. Apart from articles, books and interviews the press has been a source, Newsweek, Time, New York Times, Dagens Nyheter and Göteborgs- Posten as well as a large number of press clippings from Sweden and United States collected by Zacharias (1975).

Forum programs and information material, minutes from meetings and private archives of Göran Folin, Elisabet Viklund and Jan Fjellander have been used to verify parts of the interviews. The material accounted for about the UN-NGO relations at UNCHE is fairly extensive and the theory have not limited it as almost all cross-referred texts have been checked. But they are almost all in English and reflect angloamerican academic or journalistic cultures. The interview focus on Environmental Forum is motivated both by quantitative and qualitative criteria. In the most encompassing accounts is the Environmental Forum mentioned more then any other parallel activity or NGO. Almost all give, comparably to others, most attention to the Environment Forum and at the same time in contrasting ways which leaves many questions open. The other interviews, focused on local popular movements in Stockholm with international links, are motivated by the lack of published material. That only Swedes have been interviewed with one exception is motivated by the fairly rich amount of accounts of anglo-american observers and the central involvement of the Swedish organisations. Third world participants have not been possible to reach for practical reasons but a number of third world observers, mainly diplomats, have given their impressions (note 11) and in the preparations third world youth representatives gave their view (note 12).

The two actors that sustained the longest efforts that influenced the relations between the formal and informal levels at Stockholm have none been accounted for in academic literature, at least in their main character. Both were generally well-prepared and on their way to initiate processes on global issues but from contradictory perspectives and models for participations before UN decided to convene an environmental conference. One was a network of foundations in the US with the executive seminar Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies as the key actor and the chairman of Atlantic Richfield oil company as founder. Aspen Institute is mentioned in the most detailed literature but then never as the business think tank with executive seminars as the core of its activities nor the scope of its early and wide role in influencing the process (note 13). The other was a youth group deeply involved with third world contacts of a Stockholm branch of a movement inspired by Indian religious philosophy and vegetarianism. This Teosofiska ungdomsgruppen, the Theosophic Youth Group, that for more then ten years sustained a growing amount of solidarity initiatives with the third world well integrated with peace, development, youth counter-culture and the emerging environmental movement since the early 1960s have never been accounted for in any published literature. This motivates a more lengthy occupation with the development of their initiative. Although the group as such did not participate in their own name as a collective at the conference their initiative ended with a coalition of a broad group of people from the third world coming to Stockholm clashing with the perspectives of the established Anglo-American new environmentalism, northern governments and business think tanks. The criteria for giving them space is not only that they are not accounted for by other observers and that they earlier than all other popular movements made qualified efforts giving them a central position in the preparations for alternative popular and scientific activities at Stockholm and linkages with the South. It is also that their initiative in its content and international direction became highly provocative for both established interests and competing left-wing forces in the popular movements. Also the influential group of third world people that with a theosophist as contact person could come to Stockholm has to a high degree vanished from later accounts and so are the local environmental groups. An affair for the northern dominated international environmental organisations is what is
left (note 14).

Informal actions and actors

The informal level of intergovernmental negotiations can be negatively defined as all actions not undertaken by governments somehow linked to the process. The formal level can include both the official public standpoints as well as secret diplomatic negotiations. Informal actions from the point of view of governments would then be all actions undertaken by all non-state actors like trade unions, business, mass media, movements or unorganised youth activists on the streets. Those non-state actors can of course work openly in a way that makes them transparent, accountable, and participatory for the public. This in the tradition of the association or the democratic popular movement, both open for anyone supporting the goal of the organisation. The openness can be protected either by formal statutes or by informal democratic customs in a movement, this kind of democratic organisations open to public participation will here be called popular movements, and sometimes when speaking of specific groups people’s organisations, POs. In the case of business the openness for public participation do not exist but other forms of accountability and transparence is possible.

In this studied process the interest of business is mainly maintained by special business think-tanks. They belong to a group of organisations that in the UN system is labelled NGOs, non-governmental organisations. No consensual definition of the concept of NGOs exist apart from the formal that they should not have been established by governmental decision. Sometimes also business corporations are excluded as they work for profit-making motives but organisations working in the interest of business like Chambers of Commerce are explicitly included (note 15). Many of the dominant NGOs, especially in the environmental field are hard to separate from state or business interests. The influential International Union for the Conservation of Nature, IUCN has both governments and POs as members and is then a hybrid NGO generally regarded as NGO. World Resource Institute, WRI, World-Wide Fund for Nature, WWF and Greenpeace are other internationally influential NGOs that are not POs. None of them have possibilities for popular democratic participation in their decision-making and WRI and WWF have strong presence of business and in the latter case of nobility when possible in their boards.

Many also define popular democratic organisations as NGOs. Here the concern is to study the open and hidden relations between informal and formal level of politics both among governmental and non-state actors and between them. This makes the conventional distinction useful between NGOs and governmental levels including both states and international organisations like the UN. Furthermore is it useful with the distinction between POs built on possibilities for democratic transparency, accountability and participation and other NGOs lacking these criteria making it less possible to openly follow their actions. Many that focus less on the conflictual capacity of social movements and POs conflate the social movement organisations with NGOs. Here they will be kept separate when possible. Also governments can undertake actions that can be seen as informal from the point of view of governments. This can take the form of secret activities outside diplomatic channels to influence the context of inter-governmental negotiations. More problematic from the point of view of making clear definitions is interaction mixing state actors and non-state actors participating in the same events that directly or indirectly through different kind of media influences the official course of events. When non-state actors in such a chain of events in one sequence acts by themselves it is defined as informal even if the initiator is a state actor.

The issues chosen to look closer at are those who are controversial and the actors tries actively to avoid or proclaim them as politically relevant, how these issues were influenced and if it was done inside or outside the formal agenda and results of the conference.


The present interstate system created by the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 gave the political legitimacy over a geographical territory only to one authority, the state. This inter-state institutional level could gradually expand its topics from war and peace issues to wider concerns. This gradual expansion took place without popular participation

and according to the rules of secret diplomacy. But instead of popular participation directly at the level of interstate institutions or at their meeting the interstate system was much influenced by popular participation through other means. The succession of the American, French and Haitian revolutions or later the revolution of 1848 in most parts of Europe and rebellions in the colonies all over the world changed the balances. The worker’s movement formed the First International 1864 effectively supporting strikes internationally. The Red Cross was formed for humanitarian needs that the states caused by their wars but could not fulfil. A political popular movement against the wars of the states and militarism was mobilised with aims to build peace through destroying the power of capitalist imperialism or through international law and international institution building. Also a modern conservation movement started, at first on the tropical islands from 1768 and onwards (note 16) and later as part of the wave of building associations in Europe and North America. At first to defend animals which got wide spread popular support especially from women which from 1867 and onwards created successful local, national and international campaigning popular movements. Later starting in the end of the 19th century more elitist organisations with broader nature conservation aims were initiated. The first international environmental law was established 1900 to preserve wildlife in Africa and the first international environmental organisation started 1903 with the aim to preserve wildlife in the British empire. Attempts were made to start an international organisation for conservation in the beginning of the century but without results before World War II, but an international organisation for protecing birds was established 1922. In 1909 separate North American and European international conservation governmental meetings were held an ideas promoted for an international conference that did not materialise (note 17).

The confidence in national states were lost after their system of managing international affairs ended with the first world war. The earlier demands for international law and institutions were now met by the creation of the League of Nations. In spite of that it was a result of the failure of the states and of massive popular mobilisations through decades is there no reports in the literature of any popular mobilisation at the meetings. The popular participation is limited to a few representatives for trade unions and some other popular and non-governmental organisations like chambers of commerce. At national level membership organisations for the support of the League of Nations was successfully formed that at the same time effectively split the peace movement. The rest that did not put their main trust in the international arbitration at the League of Nations were incapable of integrating the workers anti-militarist and the pacifist wings in the way that was to a high degree successfully done at the turn of the century.

Equally, the worker’s movement was split during the war into those supporting their national governments war efforts and those who didn’t, following the anti militaristic strategy of the whole social democratic movement before the war and eventually advocated revolution now. Both movements saw the national state and the conquering of its power as the main tool for bringing about social and political change and for this purpose built the Second and Third International in bitter competition. The stage was set for a new world war and after it a new attempt at creating an international institution, the United Nations.

The United Nations Conference on Human Environment in Stockholm 1972 was the first time ever since the creation of formal meetings in an inter-state system that popular participation was enacted directly and open to wide lay person participation, and not only through a limited number of representatives, with a wide range of activities and interaction between popular and governmental spheres. There had been popular activities at international meetings before as when conflictual demonstrations were held against the World Bank meeting in Copenhagen 1970 or at a meeting of finance ministers of the ten leading industrial countries at Lidingö in 1968 but the interaction between the popular activities and the official meetings was minimal or non-existent except indirectly through mass media and security arrangements. There was also in the creation and at the start of the United Nations interaction between NGOs and the governmental level. An NGO with strong business links initiated 1939 the economical and political post-war research in the US secretly for the public, a process that later merged with the State Department planning and became the base for UN and Bretton Woods system (note 18). There was also ad hoc lobbying representation from popular and non-governmental organisations at the establishing of the UN at San Fransisco 1945 (note 19). Later this NGO-UN relation was regulated through accreditation but there were no open direct popular participation in independent activities that through numerous ways interacted with the official United Nations gathering (note 20).

While corporate interests planned their ideas for the post-war world there were also earlier attempts at international cooperation in the field of natural resource management with the UN system as one prime mover. Gradually an integrated process emerged were it is hard to see were the official starts and the non-governmental, scientific or more action-oriented, begin. Often the same persons acting simultaneously in both governmental and non-governmental roles. The UN agency for scientific and cultural affairs UNESCO and its leader Julian Huxley was central both in linking the scientific NGO ICSU to the UN system 1945 and in initiating the conservation NGO, IUPN in 1948
(later renamed International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, IUCN) with the youth branch IYF. ICSU gave advice on the peaceful uses of atomic energy and applied ecology among other scientific tasks, IUCN focused on wildlife and other nature conservation (note 21). This symbiosis reaches its highest result so far with the decision to arrange UNCHE.


UNCHE prehistory

By the end of the 1960s time new popular movements had emerged. In Europe the peace movement and solidarity with Algeria and later with other third world countries, in the US the civil rights movement and anti-Vietnam war movement and in many industrial countries but also some in the third world an environmental movement building more on popular participation than before and integrating human health and nature conservation issues and sometimes questioning economic, political and cultural causes of environmental degradation. The process for arranging an international conference on the human environment emerged. There are at least ten distinct forces at play during UNCHE in Stockholm 1972 who were building a long-term momentum to influence the process: National states, UN, Science and popular science authors, UN accredited NGOs, Anglo-American New Environmentalism, Anti-vietnam war movement linked with both established and new Swedish political culture, the left, local socially oriented environmentalists, young theosophists linked to third world activists and finally business and business NGOs. Academic literature account for the five first but little if at all of the others. This in spite of that it was the five latter that to a high degree set the agenda and were some of the strongest conflicts occurred.


To Look at or to Act

With Sweden and the US as lead countries domestic but also world environmental issues became issues of public concerns in Europe and North America (note 22). States started to react. Sweden became the first country in setting up a state authority for the environment and making a comprehensive environmental law 1968, while at the same time responding to wide-spread popular protests by forbidding the agricultural use of mercury. Other nation states soon followed suit. Fuelled by oil and other environmental catastrophes like the Torrey Canyon accident at Cornwall 1967, the time had come for broader international initiatives. The Swedish UN Delegation headed by Sverker Åström brings up the proposal to make an environmental UN-conference and it is approved in the General Assembly 1968. In the UN resolution the formal original aim is ”to provide a framework for comprehensive consideration within the UN of problems of the human environment in order to focus the attention of governments and the public opinion on the importance and urgency of this question”. The reaction were reluctant from different countries but preparations went ahead. The established organisations whether UN, governmental or nongovernmental already had their conceptual framework and working methods clearly defined for a conventional scientifically and not action-oriented conference.

The values of business and internal and external colonialisation was challenged in the 1960s in the US by emerging movements. How to not only react but also formulate new strategies was discussed at the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Here business leaders met together with elite scientists, a few trade unionists and statesmen every summer since 1950. In the early 1960s seminars on the public role of science, field biology and long-term historical climate change were held in at first disparate attempt to enlarge the scope of issues beyond the core executive seminars focusing on the greatest Western thinking. But it is first in the summer of 1967 things starts to get a direction. Joe Slater from the Ford Foundation becomes scholar in residence at Aspen Institute and gives his lecture on ”Biology and Humanism” for the Executive Seminar. He is asked to become director of both the institute and its main founder Anderson Foundation. After having finished the task of setting up an international broadcast institute, a ”free-floating university” network of centres for advanced studies and renew an institute for biological studies he finally excepts in 1969. The main effort for his renewed humanistic strategy for the institute was the environment. Slater saw a problem in that ”the old-line conservation organisations tended to focus only on single aspects of the environment". A positive solution was the creation of an international environmental institute (note 23). The first step was to conduct a world-wide survey to determine who was doing what.

After a first unsuccessful attempt Slater calls late 1969 the civil servant Thomas W Wilson who is trying to get the Secretary of State to move on the international front in environmental matters but as he sees it without success. Wilson accepts the offer to start working for Slater.

In the 1968 election the population control of the third world got its strongest voice with the highly successful book The Population Bomb written by the biologist Paul Ehrlich. Business actors like the Rockefellers had a long interest in the population control issue and now a person and a message they could support, someone and something that caught wide-spread support also from an alerted new young environmentalist opinion in the US.

Late 1960s sees a growing mobilisation of popular movement all round the world. Trade unions in both the third world and industrialised countries organise strikes and if they do not striking committees are formed by the worker’s. Liberation movements in the south are in war with dominating northern countries or domestic elites, often supported by popular movements in the north. The environmental movement in the industrialised countries are much linked to the student and youth movements, the anti Vietnam war movement and the opposition against nuclear weapons of the era (note 24). But apart from the youth theosophist with its linkages internationally and to the popular movements in Stockholm, no independent international popular initiatives of relevance for UNCHE are taken in Stockholm in this decade.

Teosofiska ungdomsgruppen (TUG), started to widen their interest at the beginning of the 1960s. The youth group had already in the 1950s adopted a Tibetan child and this idea was expanded. With a group of young theosophists as the core organisers support from schools all over Sweden to keep a refugee child, from the Algerian liberation war, above starvation level succeeded in collecting 600.000 Swedish crowns in most high schools in Sweden in 1961-62. Meanwhile the young theosophists got involved in other local and international peace, ecology, counter-culture and solidarity movements in the early 1960s while maintaining TUG as a core group for unlimited discussions and as a community. A decade followed with every year bringing in new and wider concerns and organisational contacts ending with a full-scale attempt to bring in the third world perspective at the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment 1972 (note 25).

Vegetarianism was strong in the group which led to contacts with the health food movement 1962 and consciousness about the problem of ”emissions” before the notion of environment was born and the influential book Silent Spring that is seen as starting the environmental movement was published. In 1966 TUG members inspired by the Dutch provos started a lively youth ProVie movement in Stockholm struggling for public transport, against no-return bottles and tobacco advertising. After a year the movement decided to bury itself, which it promptly did with a symbolic funeral coffin procession. The ProViemovement was soon followed by others in 1968. Neighbourhood groups started to pull down walls on backyards that had hindered people from the whole block to come together or to build a playground. The movement with support of a center for experience-exchange deliberately closed new more open and spontaneous forms for cooperating avoiding the more formal association with a board. Anti commercial groups successfully stopped a teenager fair trade now immediately expanded their work and arranged Alternative Christmas celebrations all over Stockholm, the biggest at the art school Konstfack which was occupied when the invited homeless had nowhere to go after christmas. One of the immediate outcomes was the foundation of Alternative City in February 1969, a group formed to continue the struggle for an anti-commercial culture, defend egalitarian and environmental values and mobilise against the prevailing city planning.

In the summer of 1967 the world theosophical summer camp took place in Sweden under the slogan Look In, Search Out, Try Out Camp, LASITOC. It was turned into a highly ambitious summer university trying to grasp the important global social, environmental and scientific topics. A group was formed changing the meaning of the last letter in LASITOC to committee. During the following four years this international core group with some ten people from Sweden, Great Britain, Netherlands, France and after a while West Germany met almost every three months to discuss and coordinate a wider and expanding ambitious agenda ending with an initiative to link with third world people and arrange alternative activities at UNCHE. The LASITOC group turned the idea of an informal university into practice by systematically contacting well-known intellectuals when the had their international meetings. In Stockholm, the youth theosophist Jan Fjellander started to work for the Nobel Foundation in the preparation together with an American scientific organisation of to scientific symposiums in their attempt to prepare for the start of a world university. A special youth group was set up mainly with Swedish participation but also some international members including the young theosophists Peter Harper and Juris Brandt with the task to help prepare back ground material for the meetings (note 26).

The participation at the conferences and in the planning gave a lot of contacts with top scientists and especially those trying to take public responsibility and LASITOC became early aware of the UNCHE as one possibility to influence the world. But it also became more and more clear that the established scientists and the young theosophists had different agendas for their involvement. Whereas scientists hoped to influence through lobbying LASITOC tried another path to mobilise people to act and build alternative public spaces not framed by the limitations of the content of the official proceedings. Except for the somewhat reluctant UN and the energetic executive seminar institute it is the young theosophist that makes the most concentrated effort that leads to Stockholm.

Turning international initiatives towards action 1970

Direct, indirect and parallel attempts started to bear fruit. Wilson started making his international environment report in February. At stake for ”spaceship earth” if none came and took charge of the crew ”through the politicalsocial process” were among other things ”access to resources in global short supply” (note 27) In planning for the International Institute for Environmental Affairs (IIEA) envisioned by Slater it was pointed at Stockholm as a crucial political opportunity and at the same time that a ”real danger exists that the outcome could be more divisive than anything else. Almost inescapably, the Stockholm Conference will bring to a head an incipient but necessary political collision between environmental goals and development goals.” (note 28) In Europe 1970 was announced as a Conservation year and local official and unofficial activities blossomed. The US administration initiated with the financial support from Anderson (note 29) and others a nation-wide Earth Day in April with 300.000 participants or more (note 30). At UN began the key phrase ”action-oriented” to be widely used first in March 1970 (note 31) when the 27-member preparatory committee with strong representation from the third world started its huge task to prepare organisation and documentation for the Stockholm conference (note 32). But the head of the conference still was supposed to become ”Director of Studies” (note 33).

In May 1970 Maurice Strong, a businessman and the Head of the Canadian International Development Agency is approached to become leader for the Stockholm conference (note 34). He is appointed in September for the time being as an consultant taking up his post officially as Secretary-General for the Stockholm Conference in January 1971 (note 35).

Strong had not previously shown specific interest for the environment (note 36). He was on untrodden ground both concerning the content and the procedures and needed help. Slater and Strong knew each other since years past and the ideas in preparing and soon started IIEA showed to be useful. One of Strong’s first recruitments for the UNCHE secretariat was Wilson as a special advisor. Understaffed and underfinanced Strong needed help. Thus Strong, Wilson and Slater and others at the UNCHE secretariat, Aspen Institute and IIEA came to continuously cooperate closely in the preparations, during the UNCHE and the follow-up. The cooperation concerned key areas like a conceptual framework or ideology for UNCHE intended both for internal effects and the broad public, explicitly not dealing with instutionalization issues, instutionalization of UNCHE and cooperation with NGOs. Business interests should have a low profile in the formal process and in the informal participation aiming at publicity (note 37). Instead, the more invisible cooperation in core areas was so much closer.

LASITOC becomes more ambitious and in the summer 1970 they arranged an international conference called Threats and Promises of Science at Kings College in London. The conference resulted in a broad strategy for working with the role of science in society. One focus was to arrange an international parallel event to the UNCHE. What was needed was an alternative scientific third world oriented treatment of the issue of human environment.

Back in Stockholm the situation was favourable. The local alternative and environmental movement flourished. Together with groups in Amsterdam they initiated an international traffic revolution with actions against cars in some 10 countries in October 1970. The Stockholm LASITOC group now expanded with some members outside TUG and renamed late 1970 into the Powwow-group had a key position. It was soon realised by the group that people from the whole world and especially independent groups would come to Stockholm and it was time to prepare for sending out information and an address to contact.


Shaping the conference or mobilising people 1971

To manage the conference Strong separated three abstract levels to make the conference manageable (note 38). The first was a intellectual-conceptual level and would include what at Stockholm was called a ”Distinguished Lecture Series”, a ”report on the human environment” setting the stage and the mood for the conference and an official Declaration on the Human Environment comprehensively affirming the human right to a livable world. The second level was to be an ”action plan” with recommendations from the conference for national and international action in different fields.

The third level was ”action completed” including the funding and initiating of a UN environmental Agency and other measures that could be dealt with and completed during the conference. To create the conceptual framework was René Dubos and Barbara Ward commissioned to make the report Only One Earth with the help of IIEA in managing consultations with experts around the world and organize a workshop.

Strong’s senior press advisor Stone who had been very skeptic about the possibility of making a readable and saleable book on such short time with so many writers that ”meddled in its creation” was also positive about the book. ”It led one to understand and sympathise with the captains of industry and their economic rationalisers who have got us into our present pickle, but it also glowed with humane and zestful optimism, with the sort of spirit that we need to get us out of the mess” (note 39). A streamlining of the preparations took place by focusing on instruments making it easy for many more to take active part like more easily readable preparatory documents, regional preparatory meetings specially helped by a third world expert report, asking for national reports including NGO-input and extensive travelling by Strong to convince the hesitant. But there was also a need for reaching the public and cooperating with NGOs on a wider scale.

The interest among NGOs was small at the outset, only 3 NGOs participated at the first PrepCom 1970. This changed at next PrepCom in December 1970 when the NGO participation in the formal preparatory process reach its peek with 39 organisations present (note 40). Different observers sees an orientation towards scientific and technical NGOs with ICSU and IUCN pointed at as main cooperation partners (note 41). Willets assess that ”[t]here was little sense of the intense political controversy that could surround environmental questions and few signs of any desire to hear from NGOs at the grass-roots, tackling local environmental problems, or all parts of the environmental movement. Thus prior to the main conference Strong’s approach was to make sure that governments had sound advice from ’experts’, and NGOs were predominantly seen as groupings of relevant experts” (note 42). But the interests of Strong and the information and public relations officers of UNCHE as well as among close collaborators like Slater indicated early interest for popular activities and youth participation. Aspen Institute and Anderson were involved in Earth Day and the senior information advisor Peter Stone chosen by Strong searched for cooperation partners that could act as ”multiplicators” (note 43) to overcome the obstacles due to lack of resources.

This emphasis on participation with those having an interest by themselves and willing to spread interest for UNCHE caused unexpected ”endless controversy”. In general, the governments of the preparatory committee had been very positive towards new ideas and mobilisation of public opinion. What caused suspicion was projects involving ”uncontrolled participation” (note 44). The project which caused so much conflict between those used to secret diplomacy and official messages to the public and those in desperate need for multiplicators for publicity was a forum for the environmental movement and NGOs. One problem with this ”had never been far from our minds: the risk that the Forum might turn into a ’counter conference’.” (note 45). The idea Stone had was different ”I had imagined an Environment Forum in the shadow of, but apart from, the main conference. It would be arranged more or less like an exhibition and anyone could put up a stall and do their thing, provided they satisfied a few basic requirements such as financial solvency and a genuine interest in the environment.” The plan to avoid obstacles at the central UN level was to give the Swedish government responsibility for arranging the event. The Swedish United Nations Association (UNA) and the Swedish National Council for Youth Associations were commissioned to be responsible for the management.

Meanwhile in Stockholm mass popular participation emerged in the environmental movement. The local politicians had decided to cut down the only huge trees, a group of elms, in the city center were young people had their meeting place in Kungsträdgården which was something that alarmed Alternative City. The trees became a symbol for the struggle against environmentally unfriendly town planning and the conflict polarised. Finally the local politicians asked for support from the national government for their decisions which they got and in secret arranged to cut down the trees 11th of May 1971. This caused thousands of activist to confront police with some coercive violence and occupy the trees. 250.000 people is estimated to have participated some time during the month long occupation and folk festival that followed and the politicians changed their decision (note 46). All over the country local environmental groups were formed and a national organisation started.

The Powwow group start building their contacts in early 1971. At Easter a Powwow manifesto is finalised for the work and translated into several languages. The platform opened up saying that ”[o]ur planet is ruined. Economic growth have become a God in whose name all living is withering away, natural resources plundered and man enslaved.” The manifesto points at both that ”we must create a new way of life” and that ”now we must find new ways of production that allow us to live with the resources of the earth instead of poisoning and eroding them.” and ”we must solidarise us with the oppressed fighting for their liberation in poor countries and at other places.” From the politicians, corporations and international organisations was little expected. They were seen as reacting on the intensified discussion of others and not ”able to solve the problems we face.” During the rest of the year contacts are taken with local action groups internationally and with other groups planning parallel activities in Stockholm like the IFOR (international Christian peace movement) initiative Dai Dong that among other things focused at ecological warfare and had strong scientific bias. Powwow also sent Fjellander and one other delegate to a global youth conference that was a cornerstone in the UNCHE preparations.

Something unique happened with the International Youth Conference on the Problems of the Human Environment, IYCHE. For the first time in the whole process when popular organisations met internationally the majority came from the third world. The conference was held at Hamilton in Canada 20-30th of August 1971 and supported by the UNCHE Secretariat, UNESCO, IUCN, the International Youth Federation for the Study and Conservation of Nature, IYF and others. 163 young people gathered from 75 countries. The program was filled with lectures by people from the North America and British with overpopulation as one of the most dominating topics. Growing disapproval among the many third world delegates and some from the North led to a take over by the participants of the conference and a complete shift of the program into working groups instead of listening to lectures. A new actor on the scene emerged rejecting the established Anglo-American environmental discourse and replacing it with notions of the need to redistribute ”wealth and power both nationally and internationally”. Their programme was comprehensive and wide in its environmental, social, cultural and political scope forecasting the later stronger cooperation in the 1990s of the environmental and development movements in the South and the North. They demanded with UN non-accredited NGOs and other independent voices in mind "that the U.N. Stockholm Conference organisers initiate immediate machinery to provide an independent parallel conference of such excluded parties to be held in Stockholm itself for the duration of the Conference or Environmental Forum at present being planned but completely and distinct therefrom.”

The popular movements were well-prepared in Stockholm and linked internationally both among environmentalists in Europe and with the Third world. A group of eleven third world participants that started the change of the meeting at Hamilton formed the Oi Committee International with Fjellander as a representative in Stockholm.

Scientifically and more socially oriented environmental discourse started to gain momentum with Barry Commoner’s book Closing the Circle that got wide spread attention internationally. UN was still on the defensive in getting the control of the NGOs, public activities and the total public image in Stockholm. The picture of a harmonious world were the powerful nations together with everybody started to seriously deal with the global environmental problems was challenged. Over 2.000 scientist had signed the Dai Dong declaration and the global youth at Hamilton had chosen as its spokesperson at the official UN Conference a Vietnamese Nguyen Thanh.


The Semi-official and American intervention in Stockholm

The obstacles for non-accredited NGOs criticised by the youth at Hamilton was partly solved at the third session of the preparatory committee in September 1971. It was now formally sanctioned by the UN to arrange a parallel Environmental Forum under Swedish responsibility for wider participation from more than selected NGOs. The forum is presented as independent for interested Swedish organisations but this is constantly challenged by suspicious organisations seeing it as a ”radical alibi” calling into question that all proposals for the program are supposed to go to a advisory panel in Geneva for ”review”. The Powwow-group invites more organisations and preparations starts for making an independent not by UN sanctioned alternative conference called People’s Forum without a leadership selected by the state. Meanwhile changes takes place for the Environmental Forum. The full decision-power was transferred to Stockholm and better premises more suitable for debates and not as the first building purposed for exhibitions in line with the original UNCHE secretariat plans.

The Powwow group continued its preparations together with the People’s Forum. There are some problems rising at the horizon although they do not seem to be grave. The most important one was financing. Especially troublesome is the situation for the third world people in the Oi Committee who have now grown to become 60 members from all over the third world including a handful from indigenous peoples preparing themselves to come to Stockholm with reports. Another problem is a tendency among People’s Forum organisations to prioritise the needs of local inhabitants and Swedes that do not understand English by demanding full consecutive translation of everything said at public meetings into Swedish and not allowing for a international discussion in English. But there seems to be no bigger political divergence. People’s Forum is well linked to the most important international initiatives Dai Dong and Oi Committee as well as new Swedish environmental groups from Stockholm and the national level. During the spring is there also an explosive interest internationally in new books about the environment like Only One Earth , Limits to Growth and Blueprint for Survival selling in million of copies and translated into more than 20 languages. To be able to influence the UNCHE Friends of the Earth in the United States initiated a Swedish sister organisation. The first to be published was The Population Bomb with its proposals for coerced vasectomy and giving up to help the worst off countries to curb the population growth. Written by the biologist Ehrlich and launched by an environmental organisation the notion of population as the most grave environmental problem was given legitimacy by environmentalists.

A more problematic American intervention came in March from something called Life Forum represented by the Kaplan Fund and the multi-millionaire Stewart Brand, a Californian drug liberal that became rich when making and selling an alternative lifestyle catalogue in 2 million copies. Life Forum met People’s Forum, Environmental Forum and the police. They offered help and financial support but provided also information stating that some hundred thousands of youth and ”street people” were on the way to come to Stockholm. To help bringing order in such a youth gathering they had invited and given resources to the drug liberal hippie commune Hog Farm wellexperienced from the Woodstock festival in keeping a crowd calm. The authorities saw the Americans as a possible help in a problematic situation. In People’s Forum the intervention caused a split between the Swedish and international organisations. Oi Committee could not guarantee that they refused any money from the Americans as the Swedes wanted. Also political tensions became so intense that Dai Dong and the Oi Committee saw no other solution than to leave People’s Forum. By the end of April the third world participation was in jeopardy and nobody of his long-time Swedish cooperation partners supported Fjellander when his position in the forum became impossible.


The final battle for ideological territory

1st of May the biggest demonstration since World War II was organised in Stockholm. Five weeks before the UN Environmental Conference two of the strands of the anti-Vietnam war movements joined hands in a common and unprecedented demonstration. The final meeting gathering 50.000 participants took place right outside Folkets Hus, the venue of the coming UN conference. The more established popular movements and the governing social democratic party had accepted more radical demands of the youth radical left movement saying not only peace in Vietnam but also specifying the US as an aggressor that had to withdraw from Indochina.

Some days later Fjellander comes up to the office of Environmental Forum. There is chaos and the employees are going on strike against the conditions and lack of information. The next day a news bill states ”Crisis in Environmental Forum, the staff threatens to leave” (note 47) Among other things were the staff alarmed by the lack of information shown when by coincidence they got to know that the director not was employed by Environmental Forum but directly by the Swedish government. The UNA Sweden leader Ingrid Segerstedt-Wibergs tries to solve the situation. In the middle of the turmoil Fjellander is asked to help the secretariat. One problem he dealt with was wishes to have prominent lectures on the population growth issue at the Environmental Forum. There was plans for a series of lectures arranged by the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) IUCN, WWF and other big international NGOs to be held at the Forum with Ehrlich as one of the key note speakers. Fjellander phoned Ehrlich and told him that the possibility for a key note speech was cancelled. He instead told the arrangers that they had to stand in the line as everybody else with their proposals, a panel debate on the issue became the solution.

Everybody were supposed to be treated in the same way without regard to richness or size nor possible prearrangements. Newsweek accounts for the embarrassing result of the equal treatment of everybody: ”On the side U.N. is also sponsoring an ’environmental forum,’ originally intended as a high-level scientific seminar on environmental issues but now degraded into political football by the arbitrary exclusion of such prominent American environmentalists as René Dubos” (note 48). Also IIEA was involved in pushing for the population issue to become central at the Environmental Forum together with the Population Institute in cooperation with the UNCHE secretariat. When they were refused to have a dominant role at the forum for their Distinguished Lecture Series they had to find other premises at the ball room of the Grand Hotel in the last minute in a town were all suitable places was more or less occupied.

By 20th of May Fjellander presented the situation for the two responsible Swedish umbrella organisations. An Environmental Forum could be held with a twelve day program on many scenes as so many groups planned to come under all circumstances. The planning had to be ad hoc. There was one great problem though. As it looked the over-whelming majority of those that announced their participation so far came from the US and almost all the rest from Britain or Western Europe with a handful from the East bloc and the third world. By chance Fjellander said he happened to be in contact with 60 persons from the third world who since half a year had prepared themselves for making contributions on environment and development issues to international fora coinciding with the UN conference. Their participation could solve the predicament if the travel costs could be arranged. If this was not arranged Fjellander would state to the press that it was a political scandal. In two days development authorities pushed by Segerstedt-Wiberg had provided the funding and the whole secretariat of Environmental Forum with the approval of Wettergen worked day and night to arrange the arrival of the third world participants.


Patterned turbulence at Stockholm

By 1st of June Stockholm is prepared for the conference. The children care and alcohol authorities had closed Gamla Bro and Alltinget, two centrally placed houses for homeless and chronic alcoholic (note 49). The police regularly hassled the alcoholics in the city center and learned them to not stay there for a while during the visit of the prominent guests. At the same time the media informed well about the liberal conditions at Skarpnäck created were Hog Farm prepared for Life Forum and people to come with the approval of the same authorities that closed the central city places. Already in advance had international press prepared for focusing on lively side activities rather than politics. ”Our editorial idea was from the beginning not to cover the conference but to write about groups like Hog Farm, Free Stage and other people that present the problem in a dramatic form. I am really much more interested in that - furthermore was that the instruction, that my chief editor gave me. Basically we have a predilection for covering the peripheral. Nobody expects much. We had a meeting with Russell Train in a lunchroom before we went, and he doesn’t expect much coming out of the conference either” (note 50). Time and Newsweek tried to spred the slogan ”Woodstockholm” to describe what happened but without much substance or success (note 51). Of the hundred thousand participants that Brand predicted were on their way to Stockholm came a couple of hundreds.


Control of privileged space

The struggle about free speech, the forms of present contributions in public and control of access to different spaces continued all through the conference, with Hog Farmers contesting People’s Forum in particular, as the most critical forum to the UN conference. At the first People's Forum press conference Hog Farmers accredited as journalists take over the conference, provoking questions about actions against the Vietnam war (note 52). Other questions don’t get much time. This problem continued until they in the end they are refused admission (note 53). At Life Forum’s own public manifestation for a ten year moratorium on human beings at Sergels Torg Strong appeared and spoke freely. He said that he was totally of the same opinion as the Hog Farm that we should love each other and not kill each other (note 54). Then somebody reacted, went to the loudspeaker and said that this sounded very well, but that a spokesman of UN should try to stop the genocide in Vietnam. The audience applauded but one Hog Farmer tried to silence him by putting a hand on his mouth. Also at the final evaluation plenary session at the Environmental Forum the Hog Farmers intervened. When the topic of the Vietnam genocide was going to be addressed ”American hippies” invaded the gallery throwing paper swallows crying out ”action – not politics”. The chair did nothing to stop the invasion — on the contrary silence was asked for to allow the hippies read parts from a book (note 55).

Also the official conference had its share of extra-ordinary treatment of those holding the microphone and formally at the power. In the complicated negotiations about the declaration the chairman of the drafting committee manoeuvred to include the Americans and exclude the Chinese and later isolate them on tactical issues. The Canadians seeing how disastrous the situation started to become due to the unnecessarily provocative acting of the chairman ”frantically contacted Maurice Strong and asked him to intervene to try to persuade Slim to adjourn the meeting to allow tempers to cool. Strong agreed, but Slim refused. Secretly, Strong then ordered an aide to unplug the interpreting device. Faced with a gap in translation, Slim had no choice, but adjourn when ’repairs’ were effected, thus making possible informal discussion among delegates on how to proceed” (note 56). The break-down of the negotiations was avoided.

At the official conference NGO speech was very limited. The problems of bringing in the population and other issues was effectively solved. ”[a]t the end of the opening plenary session Strong rapped his gavel to say: ’Our first plenary session stands adjourned, and we will now convene right here to hear the first of the distinguished lectures series in the series sponsored by the International Institute of Environmental Affairs and the International Population Institute’” (note 57).

What characterised the different activities taking place in Stockholm was that everything became contested ground.

Politically four controversial issues came into focus: drugs, whaling, the extensive spraying and destruction of forests in Vietnam as a US warfare method, and what caused the most heated ideological debate: population control. At the same time a shift in the international environmental debate took place to the benefit of the third world among both popular movements and governments.



Skarpnäck tent city was divided by the most knowledgeably into four sections (note 58). The first is the section of ”honest thiefs” meaning alcholics stealing for getting money to get drunk, escaping from the closed downtown social centres and other places for homeless. The second is the ”sniffer village” of the thinner addicts, young people from the suburbs mainly. The third is the ”grass village” of the hashish smokers with some 25% Swedes and the rest foreigners and the fourth Hog Farm (note 59). The authorities had plans for handling the situation, basically built on letting hog Farm take care of most immediate problems and help them if serious problems occurred. A temporary field unit for care of drug addicts had been established at two narcotics information offices by the municipal social department and the use of security guards with dogs with no police authority protecting the municipal property instead of police inspection at the tent city (note 60). The respect the Hog Farm already had achieved from the local social authorities and the police was confirmed by an interview 4.6 with the assistant chief constable Hans Lagerhorn (note 61), and by an ”agreement” that the police should stay out of Skarpnäck. Complaints from a detective inspector, from neighbours and from newspapers about young people smoking hashish met no response (note 62).

In a meeting at People’s Forum the day after Strong’s visit to Skarpnäck a representative from Lowlands Weed Compagnie Statement in Amsterdam spred a statement in favour of legalisation of ”at least marijuana” (note 63). But the meeting decided with a 53 to 3 vote for a statement against drug liberalism and protesting against that ”Swedish authorities tolerate and supports the American group Hog Farm’s narcotics indoctrination of young people at the Skarpnäck air field. Hog Farm is practising a cultural oppression with the aim of making people passive, hiding societal problems and hindering the solution of the problems”. The statement demand that ”the police breaks their agreement with Hog Farm and intervene against the group in accordance with Swedish law”. But Lagerhorn rejects
the accusations: ”We don’t know of any hashish distribution” (note 64).

At the next meeting People’s Forum addressed the imperialist Opium War to open up China for British drug dealers and proclaimed continuation in the Golden Triangle a hundred years after by CIA. Some 30 Hog Farmers turned up at the beginning, spreading propaganda for smoking cannabis and demanded to show a picture about themselves. A leaflet invited to ”Pot Party”, upon which a Hog Farmer remarked: ”Personally I dislike heavy narcotics, but I like marijuana, it is good for me” (note 65). The confrontation between Swedish meeting rules, giving a majority the right to decide points of order, is controversial for the hog Farmers. In the meeting, lasting for ten hours, the Hog Farmers are on the brink of being thrown out but are in the end allowed to stay (note 66). Environmental Forum’s daily conference paper comments extensively on the paper but avoids the political part — its headline is ”Hog Farm Meets the Fanatics” (note 67).

At the closing day of the conference the authorities make their first evaluation — no problems had occurred: ”When assessing the darker elements one should consider the raised level of calm in other parts of the city and the closing of Gamla bro and Alltinget” (note 68).



The founder of Friends of the Earth, David Brower and Ed Goldsmith the founder of the magazine the Ecologist each put 3.000 dollars in a project that proved to be a useful idea also for coming international events (note 69). Brenton with his background as a long-time official diplomat cannot hold his positive assessment of this daily undertaking back: ”In particular they [NGOs] made the highly successful innovation, which they have followed at every major environmental conference since, of publishing a conference newspaper, ECO, which became required reading among the delegates and thus exercised some real influence on the proceedings (as, for example, in the run-up to the whaling debate)” (note 70). The first issue of ECO had whaling as their cover story, an issue that was made into a crucial topic for most Anglo-American organisations at the conference, official, non-governmental and the hippies with Friends of the Earth as the principal rallying environmental organisation behind the cause. ’The whales have become a symbol of the world’s endangered life, and of the success of this Conference in being able to deal with that part of our objectives’.” (note 71).

The US delegation was under pressure. According to Time Magazine ”the problem that the U.S. with less than 6% of the world’s population” consume ”40% of the world’s goods and necessarily causes by far the most pollution.... Another problem is the U.S. role in Vietnam.” (note 72). Struggling to avoid letting these issues or the issue of compensating developing countries be brought up, they seized on whaling as a popular cause to forward. This was uncontroversial since USA had no whaling industry, while Soviet Union or Japan could be in focus. While the US delegation worked inside the conference others worked outside. Everybody were supposed to support a whaling demonstration. The UN official Stone went around trying to convince NGOs and popular movements to participate in the unofficial action against whaling. Björn Eriksson and People’s Forum were the only ones that were not convinced. Björn Eriksson told him that whales are a good thing but that if any issue should be focused on the streets it was the ecocide in Vietnam. The UN street mobiliser turned to others in his efforts (note 73).

On the eve of the decision at UN on the whaling proposal put forward by the US a special whale ceremony was held by Hog Farm at Skarpnäck. Here the two seemingly most afar activities in Stockholm, the youth tent city and the official conference met in unity for ”The Celebration for the Whale.” On Brand’s invitation (note 74) the Secretarygeneral of the UN Conference Strong and US Former Interior Secretary Walter Hickel had come to address the audience. ”Strong gave an impromptu speech saying that he wasn’t always able to say everything that he would like to say and that he envied the kids their freedom. He said he’d rather be down there with them, a sentiment which, coming from a millionaire, might have been greeted with derision. Somehow the way he said it made it plain clear that he meant it, which I think he really did. He also welcomed their efforts to save the whales and said that the UN had to think of some better way relating to the non-governmental organisations. The applause overloaded the microphone on my tape recorder” (note 75).

The next day a full hundred, mainly Hog farmers but also the US UN delegate Train with a ”save the whales” placard in his hand took part in a demonstration downtown with a truck draped like a whale. The participation from local inhabitants is so small that the press wonders where the normally so ”demonstration-willingly” Stockholmer’s had disappeared (note 76) and so is the participation from the many international organisations that say they support the issue. After some days Hog Farm makes a last attempt to influence the streets of Stockholm by organising a final ”Celebration of Life.” Anglo-American observers are positive. ”The peaceful demonstrators danced and sang, some with painted faces, some with brightly coloured costumes, some nude. Conference Secretary-General Maurice F. Strong was presented with a call for a 10 year moratorium on the killing of human beings. Strong said he sensed the love in the message. Commenting on the participation of all the outside groups, Strong said: ’We must add a new dimension to the discourse between governments and peoples, engaging the best technological and managerial abilities of the entire world. The global environment has a global constituency. The community of the concerned is now no less than the world community” (note 77). The biggest daily in Sweden was somewhat more reluctant. The event was illustrated with a picture were the public turns their backs of three naked persons and instead listens to what is been said from a platform (note 78) The US whaling moratorium proposal went through the UN conference with overwhelming majority.

The press was filled with positive comments on the whaling decision (note 79). Less positive is the British diplomat Brenton when assessing the results: ”There was a farcical debate about whales. The US delegation, largely to please the US press and NGOs, launched and had adopted (to cheers from the public gallery), a demand for a ten year moratorium on whaling. Within a month, however, this proposal was quietly killed by the International Whaling Commission (the body which as everybody knew, was formally responsible for the regulation of whaling) with a number of countries reversing in private the support for the proposal they had given in front of TV cameras in Stockholm” (note 80).



In his first speech at the conference Olof Palme, the prime minister of Sweden, brought up the US warfare in Indochina. ”The immense destruction brought about by indiscriminate bombing, by large-scale use of bulldozers and herbicides is an outrage sometimes described as ecocide, which require international attention ... It is of paramount importance .. that ecological warfare cease immediately” (note 81). Russell Train, the US delegation leader was pushed by his State department at home to protest some days later ”The United States strongly objects to what it considers a gratuitous politicising of our environmental discussions ... The U.S. takes strong exceptions to this remarks, as Sweden is serving as the host government” (note 82). The ecocide in Vietnam continued to be a controversial issue all through the conference. Not only Palme but also the only other head of state at the conference, Indira Gandhi from India and the leader of the Chinese delegation Tang Ke as well as delegates from Iceland, Tanzania, Rumania, Algeria and Libya denounced the war on human and environmental terms.

Almost every popular movement and group of NGOs addressed the issue except Hog Farm. A demonstration with 7.000 participants was held getting much less mass media attention then the whaling demonstration with 50 times less number of participants. Swedish popular movement umbrella organisations with the governing party as a member organised a hearing with experts on the effects on nature and human health due to the mass-scale US techniques for destroying large parts of the Vietnamese forests. Dai Dong sponsored a ”convention on ecocidal war” bringing many scientists to Stockholm to prove the disastrous effects on the US intentional ecological warfare in Vietnam. The ”transnational peace effort” initiated by IFOR through Dai Dong called for ”peace in Vietnam”, a demand that caused a split. Both American experts and the Swedish Vietnam movement refused to cooperate with people who didn’t recognise USA as the aggressor and the Vietnamese as defenders. But in the end the strong criticism against US ecocidal warfare prevailed, while the lack of support for the Vietnamese liberation front FNL went on fairly unnoticed (note 83).

At People’s Forum and at Environmental Forum criticism of the ecocide and war in Vietnam was a recurrent theme. Allen Nadler from Scientists Institute for Public Information, SIPI, got enthusiastic response at Konstfack when he argued that ”The prime export of my country is murder” (note 84). Making the more prominent SIPI members and other US scientists to speak up was not always as easy. The crucial point was when the Vietnam war was on the formal agenda of the Environmental Forum and a delegate from the official US delegation invited, William D. Ruckelshaus, the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, to discuss ecocide. The situation was tense. Ruckelshaus announced to the press that he sensed lynching (note 85). There was some hesitation also at the Environmental Forum to speak up publicly against the Vietnam war. But the organiser Wettergren convinced Commoner that he had to pay for the liberal use he had made of the Forum (note 86), and with the anthropologist Margaret Mead as a leader also convincing Commoner and other hesitant prominent Americans the stage was set (note 87). The overcrowded meeting with mainly young audience was ”aggressively critical” (note 88). But Ruckelshaus cleverly avoids a total confrontation. On the question ”Are you going to tell the president that everyone at the conference and everyone you met demanded United States withdrawal from Vietnam” he answered: ”I shall tell him that I was invited to a very interesting meeting where there were a lot of people who seemed to regard the issue of war and environment as one and the same”. Margaret Mead was also the speaker for the NGOs at the official conference. Here she introduced the joint NGO statement were the problems with ecological warfare is addressed and war as in all alternative declarations seen as the greatest threat to humanity and the environment (note 89). But not explicitly against the US ecocidal warfare as when Mead and others spoke more freely at the Environmental Forum. When finally the representative from the Boy Scouts International Bureau on behalf of his own organisation, The World Association of Girl Guides and 9 other international youth non-governmental organisations in their statement to the official conference called for an end to ”the deliberate destruction of the environment by warfare” was the broadness of the criticism fully clear. The scouting and student youth stated that ”The United States Government disgraceful war of ecocide in Indochina and similar wars in other parts of the world should have been dealt with by this conference” (note 90). Now there was no more a problem that the Vietnamese girl originally elected at Hamilton for representing the world youth at the UN conference not could come for personal reasons and someone else from the youth conference at Hamilton to replace her as originally planned had been sorted out by the official organisers (note 91). The criticism was overwhelming from all corners and the message clear although no decision at the conference was made.



The main controversial clash between the dominant Anglo-American new environmentalism with its support at highest levels and the popular movements and the third world took place at the Environmental Forum on the issue of population control. In spite of many well-funded attempts has the population issue never since this confrontation been able to catch the kind of charismatic function it had for the Anglo-American attempt to launch a global ideology for the environmental problems. The attempts were as we have seen large from the side of business think tanks and the biggest wildlife, nature conservation and population organisations to make the population issue central at all levels in Stockholm. They succeeded in making an issue at Grand Hotel for the selected elite but it was more important to make it an issue also in a more public debate.

At the Environmental Forum the population debates proposed by the big NGOs had been dealt with by arranging the kind open panel debates were the public can participate after introductions. Peter Scott, en upper class Englishman from World Wildlife Fund, had been given the task to chair Ehrlich, the Swede Erland Hofsten and Landing Savane from Senegal. This composition of the debate upsetted the third worlders in the Oi committee. The way vasectomy was more or less forced upon oppressed and poor people in the third world and the way development aid had diminished while aid to family planning sky rocketed was for them highly provocative. When the panel debate was going to start on ”Aspects on the population issue” Dora Obi Chizea, a biologist from Ibadan in Nigeria was followed by three other Oi members not to accept a discussion about population control of people in the third world and wanting to take over the discussion. Chaos occurred but the English gentleman and the proud female from Nigeria sorted things out and both became chairpersons for a panel enlarged with the three Oi committee members.

The third world intervention in the population debate is the most controversial act during the UN conference 1972 for most observers. At the time many Anglo-American observers dwell upon the astonishing action. The conference newspaper ECO made by Friends of the Earth and the Ecologist was especially upset (note 92). The third world people were identified as ”pseudo-leftist elite who claim to speak for the third world” and creating an atmosphere of ”elitist conspiracy”. Actually the third world people are not capable of leading themselves, ”Commoner, masterminding the debunking, ... lurked in the gallery (of the auditorium), ventriloquizing to his puppet army by means of scribbled instructions carried downstairs, while Farvar, his chief lieutenant, wandered round the forum prompting and orchestring his O.I. boys”. ECO asked itself not only how the population debate could have gone so wrong, their accusation went a lot further, they asked ”How did Barry and his band of lesser commoners come to take over the Environment Forum and turn a potential meeting place for many views into a semi-Marxist monologue”. The two books written about the conference at the time by Stone and Rowlands draw heavily on the comments in ECO that starts a trend to denounce the third world participation as incompetent and left-wing irrelevance to the truly more objective and scientific discourse. None of the books asks itself why in the first place the whole discussion is so highly dominated by the Anglo-Americans and effectively hides the political content of the global youth meeting at Hamilton. Still in the 1990s a seminal book on environmental international negotiations, ”The Greening of Machiavelli” by the English diplomat Brenton is upset about the way ”so highly esteemed a figure as” Ehrlich was treated (note 93).

What did actually happen? ECO says that Ehrlich from the outset was ”facing a 2-1 panel” against his opinion, Savane and Hofsten being the opposition. In Ehrlich’s own account Savane is called ”bright” and ”interested” while Hofsten, a leading Swedish demographer, is derided as ”innocent of elementary demography”. ECO also talks about how ”the O.I. boys (and girls) moved in posse on to the platform and took over the meeting, adding four of their number to the three panelists.” Stone says that ”free speech was somewhat neglected” at the Environmental Forum, giving the example of Ehrlich being ”howled off the platform” (note 94). In his own account Ehrlich is strongly upset, but gives surprisingly friendly accounts of the new co-chair "Ms. Obi Chizea proved both intelligent and fair". Furthermore is also one of the added Oi panelists, Yusuf Ali Eraj, given credit by Ehrlich for his opinions against the other Oi committee panelists and "cohorts" (note 95).

The content of the debate was heated but not totally lacking consensus. Some Oi committee persons and third world participants as de Castro at the first day of the Forum saw forced population control as genocide and emphasised social justice as a solution to overpopulation. Furthermore the need for self-determination was stressed instead of unquestioned acceptance of Western prepackaged birth control programs. Stanley Hoffsten from the UN Demographic Office pointed at the possibility that the rich Western countries advocated population control to preserve natural resources for their own use (note 96). After that Ehrlich pointed out that population control was only one half of the problem, the other half consisting of two factors, affluence and technology, influencing the environment the situation calmed down further (note 97). But the Oi committee members still pointed at a severe unbalance in Ehrlich points of view as he did become specific when the environmental problem had to be addressed by population control but refrained from being concrete when he talked about redistribution of wealth.

At other fora outside the official conference, the population issue was also discussed or at least promoted extensively. At the Grand Hotel Aurelio Peccei, vice president of the transnational corporation Olivetti and president of the Club of Rome (note 98) made the typical dualistic explanation of the environmental crisis in population growth and something else, in his case urbanisation. His ”nightmarish vision” was of ”gargantuan megalopolis” and his solution was similar to so many Anglo-American environmentalists close to business interest, a call for ”la dimension de l’homme”, the human dimension (note 99).

Also the UN conference discussed the population issue although highly insufficiently in the eyes of the population control advocates. Two recommendations to the World Health Organisation and other UN agencies were made with the vote 55 for and 18 against thus including support from quite a few third world countries to increase assistance to family planning and intensify research of human reproduction, ”so that serious consequences of population explosion on the human environment can be prevented.” (note 100). Also in the UN declaration was some general remarks included on population growth as a problem for preserving the environment and promotion of ”demographic policies, without prejudice of basic human rights” should be applied when appropriate.

The Oi committee in their final declaration opposed the Club of Rome and others by wanting to ”reject models of stagnation proposed by certain alarmist Western ecologists, economists, industrialists and computer fans, ... We therefore strongly condemn the international agencies and aid programs for their involvement in population control policies which are against Third World peoples and which will perpetuate their exploitation.”


The actors

At Stockholm business was discreet as it had been decided that it was untactful to involve industry too much. International Chambers of Commerce, ICC, participated as one of many NGOs lobbying in the corridors. But they did not answer the survey made about NGO participation so their activities are not recorded in academic literature. Strong and Raymond at IIEA had already seen to that business was centrally involved. Sponsored by the magazines Realité and Newsweek 150 leaders of international business enterprises were flewn to a meeting on the eve of the UN Conference in Paris and later others to a similar meeting in New York. The meeting in Paris was convened and payed by ICC and in New York arranged by the National Conference Board. Strong talked about why business should support the UN environmental work (note 101). Business was sufficiently represented in Stockholm also by other means than through the General-Secretary and businessman Strong. The Club of Rome present at Stockholm had many industrialists as members that influenced the public and the multimillionaire Brand making money out of the counterculture was also a pro-capitalistic ideologue in a maybe more effective way than the ICC. Much of the core conceptual framework and institutional follow-up was already well influenced through IIEA and others in congruence with the interest of business.

The idea of starting an environmental UN body met resistance from some Western countries at the official conference but also from other established interests. Already in the preparations had other UN agencies tried to stop any new UN body. Still on the last day of the Stockholm conference ECO could publish a telegram sent before the conference from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) trying to stop the creation of a separate environmental UN body (note 102). But the wish for a visible result of action from the conference was to strong to block a decision to start an UN environmental program with much less own field work than specialised agencies. An action plan with some 109 points was decided and a fund started. Funding was made on voluntary bases and in a time when still no bigger recession had hit the industrial countries this was seen as possible to arrange as rather small sums were asked for compared to other UN areas.

The Soviet bloc did participate due to diplomatic problems with the right for GDR to attend as a delegate. Instead China entered the scene as the great opponent of USA. At their first appearance after entering the UN they wanted the carefully prepared draft reopened for discussion, since they had not been able to participate in the negotiations. Unexperienced with China as diplomats many wondered what their real motives were, and Americans thought that it was ”quite clear” that the Chinese were ”out to wreck the declaration” (note 103). A diplomatic war started that continued all through the conference. While countries like USA and France were not interested in a declaration with legal precepts and thus not especially interested in a declaration consisting in more than a preamble, smaller industrial nations and the developing world wanted a declaration. The Chinese leaked through the ECO newspaper that what they wanted was a full discussion of their proposals but not necessarily everything included in as formal statements. What they specifically wanted to fight against was blaming the human being in general and population growth in particular for causing environmental destruction. For this they could find widespread support. More and more delegations found that behind the Chinese ideological glossary the Chinese wanted to strengthen the same legal principles as themselves. Finally the declaration could be agreed to after negotiations until 5.00 AM before the last day’s plenary (note 104). Rowlands notes that not only the US had hoped for less substantive action and legal principles promoted in the declaration, ”If it can be said that international law is habitually developed by weaker nations to protect their interests from the stronger nations (who can look after themselves), Stockholm was proving to be no exception to the rule (note 105).

The strong Chinese ideological position for the interest of the developing countries was also part of a general trend of developing countries changing the hitherto environmental discussion focusing on pollution to a more balanced view. Indira Gandhi was present as the only other head of government apart from the prime minister of Sweden. She saw hunger, disease and poverty as the main environmental problems in her and other developing countries. Many observers conclude that at the Stockholm conference the developing nations dominated much of the discussion and changed the narrow-minded pollution oriented and development uninterested environmental discourse of the industrialised countries and Northern environmental movements (note 106).

To be somebody at Stockholm one had to be a scientist or in some cases for the press American hippie. In the more silent part of the proceedings decisions were made to support more research benefiting the scientists and hopefully better international environmental action. A program for monitoring the condition of the biosphere, as the scientific NGOs had been part of preparing, was unanimously voted for. But also in most public arenas were scientists the central figures. Margaret Mead represented all NGOs at the UN conference and played a crucial and public role as a leading figure for the NGO community also at Environmental Forum and in the press. Barbara Ward presented what the NGOs did at the official conference at Environmental Forum. Barry Commoner was central at Environmental Forum together with mainly scientific colleagues from all over the world. Special NGO initiatives presented as scientific like Dai Dong and the Distinguished Lecture Series played central roles building a public image of what was going on. Without scientific credentials it was hard to get your voice heard at Stockholm. But even if their visibility was high, especially when they had active roles outside groups with only scientists and thus were given a legitimacy as voices for broader public concerns, there are critical comments. Some observers point at the problems groups like Dai Dong had to make their own alternative declaration showing that the criticism against the UN for the same thing was somewhat naive. For the scientists are many options open and freely space given. But their discourse is more pointing at problems and analysing what governments do, not to discuss how people can participate in a change.

For non-governmental organisations Stockholm became an innovative experimental field, more or rather totally due to initiatives from others than the already established and accredited NGOs in the UN system. The governments themselves and the UNCHE secretariat initiated many new avenues for NGOs wanting to influence the official process. NGOs were invited to take part in writing national reports or join national delegations or to participate in a semi-official NGO forum. People’s organisations themselves had also taken initiatives to a forum and Friends of the Earth and The Ecologist to a daily conference newspaper followed by the NGO forum that published one more.

Peter Willets (1996:67) in his assessment of NGOs and the UN sees these innovations as historical, ”Each of these four procedures - input to reports, joining government delegations, holding a forum and producing a newspaper - first became a feature of a UN conference at the Stockholm environmental conference in 1972.” There was also established mutual reporting between the official conference and the NGO Forum as the main points at each of the parallel meeting was reported to other at plenaries and the forum daily paper distributed to all official delegates, a degree of interaction not accounted for at later conferences.

As often NGOs were in the corridors lobbying, this time with the help of the high presence of the international media and the pressure from the many activities going on outside the official conference. Many were also new which raised the expectations combined with lack of experience of how to get in contact with UN delegations that frustrated some. There were little interest in making something in common and Mead and Ward had to push the NGOs together at coffee lunch tables to make a joint statement.

The dominant NGO in the environmental field was IUCN. They set a low priority for UNCHE but their leader Budowski formulated what many other privileged NGOs at Stockholm felt: ”Oh how we learned, everybody had a great education”. The kind of atmosphere these kind of professional participants experienced is expressed by Stone (1973:137): ”I have not yet met anyone who did not express a feeling of bewilderment at trying to find out what actually did go on at Stockholm. Everybody had the feeling that they missed something vital ...” It is also stressed what happened informally in the corridors. These contacts are seen as probably more important contributing to such projects as World Ecological Areas programme or Friends of the World Heritage (note 107) and discussions leading to the initiating of the European Environmental Bureau (note 108). For the privileged NGOs the Stockholm conference was a way to gain more influence in the UN system without doing very much, they could surf on many others efforts and use the time for effective other business.

What provokes more lively descriptions than the NGO lobbying is the Environmental Forum (note 109). ”The atmosphere of the building where the Forum was held was charged with excitement and controversy. At some sessions, more than 700 people jammed into the space of 500, filling the balcony, flowing out into the corridors which were already crowded by exhibits” (note 110). Many Anglo-American observers are critical against the Swedish organisers for letting the control over the forum come into the hands of a ”pseudo-leftist elite” master-minded by Commoner (note 111). It is as if the only explanation to the change in favour of some more third world participation could only be the result of outside pressure from the US and not rest in internal interest of a majority of both Swedish organisations and globally as expressed at Hamilton. Even after the invitation of more third world participants were Anglo-Americans dominating. 68 out of totally 149 panelists and chairs were Anglo-American, out of them 59 from the US. If we take away the added panelists and others during the population debate and also takes away the podium participants on criticised issues of political and cultural self-determination Anglo-Americans are in majority, 63 our of 121 podium participants. The winners of the additions to the population issue and liberation themes were especially Africans who raised their participation from 9 to 20. The Swedish organisers felt pushed by the Americans wanting to be on the program and were unused to the kind of promotional attitude for books and services that Americans unashamed used the meeting for (note 112). That the planning was late was not made any secret but the Swedish organisers with UNA Sweden and the secretariat maintained influence of the program together with other persons like Mead that represented the NGO community at the official conference. They met daily to finally decide about the coming day. The content of the final program except for the interventions by Oi Committee which was solved and the Hog Farmers which was not solved was an expression of what the organisers wanted. A closer look in the program also shows that the main emphasis is on more narrow environmental themes. A difference from later environmental NGO fora is that working environment clearly is included and that most politically controversial issues was discussed.

The accusations against the Swedish organisers for being dominated by a pseudo-leftist take-over motivates some investigation. The two key persons doing practical job after SIDA gave the money were Fjellander and Melander, none of them ever belonging to a leftist group but rather being considered by leftists to belong to the opposite pole. The key politician was Ingrid Segerstedt-Wiberg, chairman of UNA Sweden. She was a senior liberal MP having a strong position in UNA circles, dominated by trade unions, churches and other organisations of different political colours. So the key actors rather stood to the right of the social democrat Wettergren in party terms.

Any attempts of the Swedish government would have caused problems. Segerstedt-Wiberg’s position, anchored both in parliament and popular movements and with a long record of independent opinions, made her hard to assail. Furthermore, unwritten law in Sweden says that once government and popular movement organisations have agreed on a mandate, movement organisations are supposed to have full independence so far they adhere to the agreement. The change towards more third world participation that made Anglo-Americans believe in a leftist take-over was thus caused by non-socialists with approval of the officially appointed Wettergen, long before the accused Commoner had arrived. Rather than reflecting leftist manipulations against scientific views, it reflected an unusual Anglo-American loss of control of international events. Both at Environment Forum and at Hamilton another kind of view succeeded in making its voice heard.

In spite of the tensions due to internal contradictory intentions from the official initiators and insecure practical arrangements the result was that Environmental Forum became an arena for independent voices from all over the world. The program and participation was such that it also by today’s standard is surprisingly wide and relevant. The internal controversy among the Swedish organisers did not change a common attitude in relation to the importance of criticism of American involvement in the Vietnam war and third world opinions except when it came to the take over of the population panel. Without the change in some favour of the third world the program would have been biased towards American interests.

The New environmentalism that had exploded in the US in 1970 with the joint governmental, popular and business sponsored Earth Day had produced a lot of strong expressions capable of making itself heard even if the noise level was raised dramatically. It was according to the US press already before the UN conference truly transformed into a professionalised actor that no longer were present at the streets. At Stockholm this internal need for Anglo-American new environmentalism to transform itself also into a more coherent ideology dominated the global popular scene. The way this change is described by an Anglo-American observer as if it is a question of how the whole global environment movement is transformed is clearly expressed by John McCormick in his assessment of the Stockholm conference in his book Reclaiming Paradise: The Global Environmental Movement : ”It [the UN conference] also marked a transition: from the emotional and occasionally naive New Environmentalism of the 1960s to the more rational, political, and global perspectives of the 1970s. Above all, it brought the debate between LDCs and MDCs - with their differing perceptions of environmental priorities - into open forum and caused a fundamental shift in the direction of global environmentalism.” (note 113). Rather than being a description of the transformation of the global environmental movement it describes the change in Anglo-American new environmentalism and coming to fore of such actors as IIEA and FOE.

Some of the Anglo-American initiatives are fruitful. ECO becomes a key instrument for making NGOs important and influential and a standard model for almost all coming international events beginning at a meeting on nuclear power and energy already 1972. Friends of the Earth became the strongest international democratic PO increasingly more socially oriented as third world members joined. The counter-cultural faction of the movement is effectively used by the Stockholm municipal authorities as baby-sitters for the problematic youth to keep them outside the sight of official delegates and in the interest of UN security arrangements. They are also effectively used by the US government, UNCHE Secretary-General, the US press and environmental organisations for the double purpose of giving a youth image to established forces and promoting environmental symbol issues that is helpful in commercialisation and professionalisation of the urban environmental opinion and not threatening to US economic interests. The highly articulate Anglo-American presence at Stockholm is also producing the knowledge basis for much of the popular movement mobilisation on ecocide in Vietnam or nuclear power and energy issues.

The US press was afraid of the conference and wrote that: ”It will provide a conspicuous soapbox for demonstrators against the US role in Vietnam.” For the joint Swedish and American anti-Vietnam war movement, the UN conference was a success. The FNL-movement had strong influence at both important public fora, the People’s Forum and the Environmental Forum. The many years of polarised relations with the Swedish Vietnam Committee ended with the many cooperative actions taken during the conference. The American critical voices were welcomed everywhere accept at Skarpnäck. Demonstrations, a special Swedish hearing on ecocidal warfare, interventions by NGOs and governments in the official proceedings and the Dai Dong effort accumulated a strong effect.

After the split in April Powwow and the People’s Forum never regained their spirit. The cross-political movements had won the struggle over the platform for the forum but only with the help of the votes from Dai Dong and Oi committee who directly afterwards saw no other option for them then to leave a majority hostile to them. The main idea of the strong local environmental group that the movement should be decentralised made it less interested in using the Stockholm event for building an independent international environmental movement. The strength of Alternative City was its capacity to mobilise the inhabitants of Stockholm, not to defend and contribute to the formulation of an identity and ideology for an emerging independent movement. The Powwow group were unable to break out of the progressively more narrow message from People’s Forum and build a long term alliance with the third world position from Hamilton so close to their own original declaration. When the first conflicts emerged of the nature of People’s Forum the Powwow-group did not defend the view that the Stockholm conference was an important occasion for a qualified discussion for forming an international movement and not only a possibility for a Swedish speaking audience to listen and form its opinion. What was left from the hopes of occupying Skeppsholmen was an exhibition at the same island about alternative technology. Thus the utopian core of the environmental movement was protected and an image of the Powwow-group produced that also met positive response from the UNCHE information advisor: ”They blazed with earnestness and sincerity and made one wish that the world really were so simple” (note 114).

The left could gradually more dominate People’s Forum. A polarised position was strengthened all through the conference by the interaction with Hog Farm. In its final declaration People’s Forum became outspoken against ”profit maximising of the companies and finance groups.” A socialistic planned economy was necessary for solving the environmental problem although not automatically solving all of them. The cross-political protested. The United FNL-groups called the declaration of the majority an act of ”activists of disruption” and Alternative City and the Powwow group distance themselves from the final documents. One outside observer sees a positive aspect in People’s Forum, ”Only the Folkets Forum, with its openly and unambiguously left-wing political bias, was able to avoid the mire of opportunism and recrimination which had been the nemesis of the other ’conscience’ conferences” (note 115).

Another action causing splits in People’s Forum was a press release examining which organisations had received funding from Kaplan Fund. Not only Life Forum but also Oi Committee, SIPI with Commoner and Mead and others critical to US warfare. The observer that saw some merit in People’s Forum’s unambiguous bias is harder in his criticism against the press release. ”Whether or not the charge was true (...) it had just the right tone to provide a fitting conclusion to the activities of the alternative conferences. If these meetings had achieved little else, they had served to highlight the success of the U.N. conference” (note 116).

Even if one accepts the point of view of a strategy that maintains a strong independent position before compromising to get resources, the strategy of People’s Forum is problematic in another sense. The self-chosen isolation from others that can accept money from CIA related funds is not necessary to combine with the selfchosen isolation from the same groups political message. The political illoyality towards the environmental positions of the third world by the People’s Forum is shown by the disinterest for the Hamilton documents. Instead of systematically linking and building on the message that here had defeated the kind of Anglo-American focus on population and apolitical environmentalism did People’s Forum change itself into a school for local inhabitants. Their disinterest in supporting the political momentum from Hamilton and contribute to the building of a third world oriented independent environmental movement delayed such a development with a decade and opened for the established and new Anglo-American environmental NGOs to dominate the international scene.

But the task of both maintaining a dividing line between popular movements and drug liberals as well as CIArelated funds was maybe ambitious enough. The strong independence of People’s Forum left enabled also others to have opinions in conflict with established interests. But basically People’s Forum internationally became part of a colourful background for the professional NGO system and UN to educate and reform itself.

The youth theosophist attempt to get the third world perspective into the global environmental discourse came to an end. The discussions about how to continue the Oi Committee became coloured by extensive demands for representation from different regions and sub-regions while there were no resources and ended without any building of a third world dominated organisation.


The follow-up and stalemate outcome

Mainly unnoticed at the time the Stockholm conference became more of a transformation of the environmental popular movement than the level of inter-governmental negotiations and institutions.

The issues

The UNCHE decision on whaling that was made such a prominent issue at Stockholm by the US and Anglo-American NGOs proved not only to be without effect on separate International Whaling Commission (IWC) negotiations. It also lowered the respect for UNCHE that decisions were made at Stockholm and then changed or simply ignored by some of the same states that had supported the whaling moratorium at Stockholm,”it is scarcely necessarily to point out that the actions of I.W.C, predictable as though they have been, did nothing to enhance the prestige of the Stockholm conference” (note 117).

The lack of UNCHE decision on ecological warfare in Vietnam proved more politically effective. The denunciation of the US ecocide had been overwhelming at Stockholm although no formal decision was taken. The US closed to end its use of defoliants and ecological warfare before the war ended in Indochina. The genetic damage among newborn children is very high in Vietnam with their parents from the generations born during the time when spraying of chemicals was intensive during the war.

Drug liberalism still is a controversial issue with some tendency to win proponents but never close to that what Lowlands Weed Compagnie hoped for at Stockholm. The kind of open propaganda for use of lighter drugs that was prominent at Stockholm did not come back at other alternative or counter activities in the future. Nor did the positive treatment from the police towards youth activists.

Population maintained its popular role among UN circles and private foundations. But the UN conference on population in 1974 became a continuation of the battle between North and South. Developing countries asked for more help to become more economically prosperous and thus making their population rate fall, the North did not want to give the help and thus were all population targets removed from the plan of action of the conference. Shifts in the domestic politics in the US towards more Christian moral values proved more important in deciding the deemphasising on population control than its popularity among global NGOs and intergovernmental organisations. A steadily increase of bilateral and multilateral population projects have anyway taken place and help curtailed the growth. Especially China that opposed much of the ideas of blaming the environmental problem on the growth of the masses in the third world have carried out effective population control programmes partly with rather coercive means in line of what Ehrlich suggested. The catastrophic predictions of exponential population growth until cut off by famine is now less common in the debate.

Development was made an issue by the third world governments together with NGO-experts to address the issue in the dualistic way of seeing environmental destruction as caused by poverty and lack of development in the South and by lack of pollution control in the North. This view was included in UNCHE documents but development was of secondary priority and not really addressed in the official follow-up of the conference.

The broader less dualistic economical, political and cultural development critique of independent third world activists and the Powwow group was maintained among socially oriented environmental movements in the North and popular movements in the South but had difficulties to establish any more elaborated conceptual framework.

What became an issue at Stockholm in spite of its low priority on the agenda was energy. All non-state actors at Stockholm that had made early attempts to influence the UN conference made energy their next main point on their environmental agenda, the youth theosophists, the Powwow-group, the left-wing environmentalists in Sweden, Friends of the Earth, ECO and Aspen Institute. Energy also became the most controversial environmental issue during the coming decade in the industrialised countries. Furthermore the activities at Stockholm radicalised the environmental movement in the energy issue. The peace movement was present with their long time experience of struggling against nuclear interests. They together with New Zealand raised the issue of nuclear bomb tests with some success. Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom also opposed nuclear power before most environmental organisations and made an exhibition about it at Stockholm.


The actors

Aspen Institute was well-prepared for continuing its central role in influencing the global environmental discourse focusing next on energy and population issues. Strong offered Ward the role of leader for IIEA and she accepted under the condition that the headquarter moved to London and that the integration of environment and development became central. Thus IIEA changed name to International Institute for Environment and Development, IIED continuing its close collaboration with Aspen Institute. Strong had a key role at both Aspen Institute, IIED and other organisations as the Trilateral commission initiated by Rockefeller aiming at uniting the interests of the leading businessmen and politicians in Japan, Europe and North America. Business was well-placed and institutionalised for continuing their work for a conceptual framework of global environmental problems compatible with their interests.

For the UN the Stockholm conference became a new model for helping the image by arranging a series of theme conferences. The most successful one in terms of popular participation in the 1970s was the world conference to start the women’s decade in Mexico 1975 (note 118). The institutional outcome of the Stockholm conference was United Nations Environmental Program, an UN unit without full power as an executive body with Strong as director (note 119).

Basically information, education and trying to coordinate others efforts became the way UNEP worked including administrating a smaller fund for environmental programs in developing countries. The problems for UNEP with other UN agencies continued after Stockholm. The more successful part of UNEP was its help in fostering a boom in the creation of environmental agreements, especially was there an upsurge in regional negotiations with substantial results.

The great influence of the Stockholm conference on the governmental level was the growth of nation state environmental machineries from about ten at Stockholm to 100 ten years later (note 120), by 1985 more than 140 countries had environmental agencies (note 121). The result was a solution to acute pollution problems in rich countries while the environmental degradation was becoming more complex and dispersed over larger areas (note 122). ”On virtually every front there has been a marked deterioration in the quality of our shared environment,” Mostafa Tolba, the director of UNEP summed up the situation ten years later (note 123).

The wider societal knowledge interest of the environmental movement changed with the Stockholm conference and early 1970s towards specialisation. Systematic holism was often separated into instrumental and fragmented energy research and philosophical deep ecology (note 124). Established science and the political institutions need for scientific legitimation renewed itself by meeting the broader knowledge interest with elitist advanced study networks and future study institutionalisation outside the control of popular movements (note 125). The direct outcome of the Stockholm conference also boosted natural science through a specific global environment assessment network program to research, monitor and evaluate environmental risks and the status of crucial natural resources (note 126).

For the established NGOs the follow-up of the Stockholm conference was times of open doors. Conference after conference was held were they were invited to discuss how the cooperation between UN and NGOs in the environmental field should continue. Also at the regional level in Western Europe an intermediary organisation started 1974 in Brussels to influence EEC and disseminate information having its roots in discussions at the Stockholm conference, the European Environmental Bureau. On the global level the result was finally the creation of Environment Liaison Center (ELC, Later ELCI, the I added for International) with its headquarter in Nairobi as UNEP. The ideology of the NGOs is already stated in the characteristic part of the name, liaison, middlemen between popular and other environmental organisations and the UN. What made Stockholm dynamic was excluded.

The organising of actions and the central role of popular movements emphasising their own role as changers of society critisising business, politicians and the UN. Not even the NGOs themselves had energy to make much out of their self-limiting role that made them popular guests at official meetings. In 1974 more than 150 NGOs had registered to attend the annual UNEP Governing Council and by 1980 it had fallen to less then 20 (note 127).

The predictions made by Feraru (1974) were fulfilled. When she assessed the Stockholm conference and concluded that UNEP would listen to those NGOs that could provide scientific experts and getting their constituencies support for UN work. But this process was as much promoted by the dominant NGOs as UNEP. Other broad meetings for environmental NGOs did not gather many groups either (note 128). First by 1982 a large number of environmental NGOs met again for the first time since Stockholm at the UNEP special session in Nairobi. One observer that attended both the Stockholm and the Nairobi meetings wrote in the New Scientist: ”Their [the NGOs] statements to the conference was as statemenlike, as carefully qualified and as boring as the speeches of most governments” (note 129).

Instead of broader dialogues with popular movements the big international environmental NGOs IUCN and WWF developed together with UNEP a general World Conservation Strategy 1980 with the aim to integrate environmental concerns in all different policies. In a way were the distinctions between NGOs and official organisations are more totally blurred (note 130) then in any other sector was the ideology of sustainable development born. It was further promoted by the Brundtland report and sustainable development based in the dualistic perceptions of the cause of environmental degradation from the Founex and Stockholm meetings became overarching ideology for all UN theme conferences in the 1990s and a global partnership between business, the majority of other NGOs and the governments. Environmental Forum and ECO proved to be models for the future, the forum idea though more in line with the controlling interest of the UN as a side-show and exhibition rather than independent political actor. .

The Anglo-American environmentalism successfully instutionalised itself in professions and organisations like Friends of the Earth while the public opinion in both the US and UK slumped (note 131). In the US the kind of dense networking between different social movements building a movement culture was not fulfilled as in Northern Europe. The colourful counter-culture Hog Farm activists had been useful for the US government and environmental organisations in their media work but after Stockholm they were not needed anymore. The attitude towards the ”street people” is shown when Train, US delegation head at UNCHE and later head of WWF in the US later commented Stockholm: ”It was a time of easy enthusiasm and relatively simplistic approaches to complex issues” (note 132). The influence reversed across the Atlantic and in the late 1970s Northern Europe popular movements with their occupations of nuclear power sites were inspiring the Americans at Seabrook (note 133).

For popular movements in general the Stockholm conference ended in a stalemate. Business, governments and established NGOs were not capable of creating an ideology and practice that got hegemonial acceptance. Nor could the popular movements build a sufficiently broad vision about their task. The struggle continued after Stockholm now within in more narrow issue areas with nuclear power as the central way to challenge established economic, political and military interest, especially in Europe and Latin America (note 134). Its global strength to challenge business and the established NGO way of working started with the International Baby Food Action Network in the beginning of the 1980s shortly followed by a series of global single-issue action networks on pesticides, rivers and rain forests. Gradually the third world showed their organisational strength and made the environmental movement more aware of political and issues of social justice. In Malaysia a dense cooperation between the consumer union, an environmental organisation belonging to Friends of the Earth and global coordination of rain forest activism created a powerful counterweight to the Northern domination. In 1984 the kind of initiative that Oi Committee represented finally could be instutionalised when Third World Network was established with Malaysia as its headquarter. Social issues could no longer be separated from environmental questions for popular movements when working on global level. With this emergence of lay person international action commitment and the growing organisational strength of the third world did the trend change towards more interest and a new UN Conference on environment, this time including development from the outset in the title and stressing NGO participation in both the preparations and the follow-up.

In Sweden it would take 23 years before the development of the Swedish environmental movement could rid itself of splits stemming from the extra-ordinary course of events in the Stockholm conference process. The Powwow-group and a commune initiated by the youth theosophists played crucial roles in establishing the first cross-political anti-nuclear power movement in Stockholm and Sweden. This movement joined with others in forming the Environmental Federation. A special network for socialist environmental groups developed initiated by many active in People’s Forum which was unique for Sweden and flourished for some year during the 1970s. This also split Alternative City. The special Friends of the Earth organisation in Sweden initiated by Anglo-American Friends of the Earth also was a separate group dividing the environmental movement differently from other countries. In 1995 different strands including Alternative City, Environmental Federation and Friends of the Earth merged.



We have seen that non-state actors and especially popular movements played a crucial role in establishing a new pattern for interaction at the global level between governments and non-governmental organisations. At every step in the process popular actors were ahead or parallel in their efforts and through their sustained independent endeavour the semi-official forum initiated by the UN developed into an independent NGO forum with direct linkages to the official conference. This is of historic importance as it is the first time since the establishment of the modern interstate system in the 17th century that such a parallel process and independent level in direct linkage to an inter-state meeting is established. This new pattern have since the Stockholm conference become regular not only at UN theme conferences but also for the World Bank as well as outside the formal UN system when EU, APEC or G-7 meets, with different balances between a more popular independent character and a semi-official NGO process. This pattern have also included issues within the sphere of high politics normally considered to be the most strict realm for excluding all others than sovereign states from negotiations: in 1982 at the UN General Assembly the 2nd Special Session on Disarmament was held, with presence and with speeches of POs and research institutions (note 135).

The bifurcation thesis of global governance theory is thus substantiated on a macro-level. The new bifurcated pattern is also not limited to one issue-area or one international institution which shows the limitations of international regime theories.

It is shown that non-state business and popular actors can influence the outcome of how controversial issues are settled and that if issues are formally decided or only informally handled have little to do with the result and how in the end governments act. The whaling issue was formally included in the Stockholm conference decisions but had no impact on the outcome of the next governmental international regime negotiations within this issue-area. The US ecological warfare in Vietnam was formally excluded from the decisions but the popular and governmental protests had impact on the US government and the ecological warfare ended well before the war. The pressure from the NGOs and POs and their direct connections with governments differ also significantly in these two issue areas.

The popular whaling demonstration have a very wide NGO support from many organisations and US governmental delegates participates but very few people. The popular anti-Vietnam war and ecocide demonstration engage much less of the international NGOs but 50 times more people participates but no governmental delegates. The popular participation is strongest on the issue that also gets an impact on governmental action and is further away from conventional international environmental regime building while weakest on the issue that is at the core of internationally instutionalised environmental issues, the managing of the seas.

Drug policy issues was by no means part of the formal agenda of the conference and for an international regime analyst outside any possible new issue-area that could be added to the environmental theme and thus accounted for.

From a bifurcation point of view when looking at the multi-centric pole of global governance it thus play a role as it is decisive for creating a split in PO and NGO parallel activities. Furthermore it is the drug liberals who most consistently oppose bringing up the US warfare in Vietnam while at the same time they link up with the US governmental initiatives for a whaling moratorium and thus being part of the governmental and NGO mainstream.

They also are the ones among the PO and NGO actors most opposed to politisation of environmental issues and do not consider themselves as involved in politics. At the same time some of them use the Stockholm conference for promoting specific drug liberal governmental policies. The kind of cognitive struggle over what should be defined as legitimate environmental issues and what as ”political” or who is an agent of governments due to suspect funding is used by key actors in all different categories to promote their issues and exclude others from the agenda.

Drug liberalism was accepted in practice by the Swedish authorities and they neglected the reports on breaking laws and wishes to intervene from the public and lower levels of authority. This was a rational decision when accounting for the information at hand and prioritising the need to live up to the security agreement with the UN before the principal of equality before the law. At the same time it fueled suspicion against the intentions of the Swedish state and to what degree foreign actors could intervene in the relation between the sovereign Swedish state and the equal treatment of persons on Swedish territory.

While whaling and ecocide issues were discussed widely at the official conference the population issue had a lower priority. Some actors wanted population control to become a central environmental issue but had given up the formal level in beforehand. Instead the same actors tried to make this issue important in the parallel activities were the views of well-funded foundations with promotion from business NGOs clashed with that of other independent voices and the participating public. In spite of the high concentration of material resources behind this ideological attempt and numerous continued efforts it failed. Instead of becoming a central environmental issue it gradually became more an issue of social rights and the question of consumption replaced much of the role of population numbers in the environmental discourse. The invitation of third world participants to the parallel activities was here decisive for the strong rejection of the population issue as a central international environmental topic.

Both governments and non-state actors emphasise informally and formally a strong relation between issues and attempts to exclude or include them in the group of relevant political themes as well as make clear priorities in the Stockholm conference process. This makes the Stockholm conference a strong case for theories of global governance. When issues are less controversial the establishment of international regimes within specific issue areas can account for much of the relevant political process. But these negotiations within specific issue areas are embedded in a larger contested order of important issues and broader settlement of world politics. This makes the international regime theory less useful for understanding the generation of hierarchy between issues and dominant models for relations between governmental, science, business, popular and other non-state actors in world politics.

The conventional distinction of hierarchy between high politics concerning issues of national security and low politics concerning social, economical, environmental, and other issues is clearly at stake at Stockholm due to the war in Vietnam. Environmental governmental and NGO delegates in the US delegation to the official conference feels that Pentagon and the State department prioritise foreign security policy matters in the UNCHE process before the settling of environmental concerns (note 136). Other actors are also aware of this hierarchy and the need to challenge and focus on controversial issues possible to extend or limit the scope of relevant issues. At Stockholm it is possible to a high degree also challenge a super-power in its right to exercise full sovereignty in high politics. The US that can be seen as a hegemon in a neorealist conceptual frame-work in the kind of issue-areas discussed at the environmental conference had troubles also in other fields than high politics. This we have seen to a large extent due to American and other POs and NGOs challenging the US position. There is also much interaction between the different levels and at times almost impossible to separate if an initiative is governmental, UN, business NGO, popular or other. Interestingly is to see how the Chinese delegation new to UN global diplomacy quickly adapts to the situation and uses the PO and NGO initiative ECO to influence the official proceedings.

The final judgment that the end result of the Stockholm conference was a stalemate between the governmental, business and popular actors is substantiated by the shift among almost all leading popular actors in the UNCHE process chosing to focus on nuclear power and energy issues with the beginning at Stockholm. Although the issue
was not high on the formal agenda and not so controversial at the time it rapidly became so. In this issue the popular movement could regenerate their momentum and confront industry and governments, now with Northern Europe as leaders and not the US. This outcome and the ways the conflicts developed at Stockholm shows that the views of Nerfin is substantiated beyond normative assumptions. We have three main actors internationally based on the state, market and popular participation respectively as independent factors.

More problematic is the role and delineation of NGOs. Many do not differ at all between POs, business NGOs and other NGOs. The view of aggregation in a non-state multi-centric world system without accounting for different autonomous variables also at the macro-level of this system is with other words questioned as a sustained conflict in both form and content can be followed between business NGOs and popular initiatives. Other attempts to look at environmental NGOs excluding business NGOs is also problematic as there is a clear polarisation between established NGOs often closely related to governments and popular initiatives. Furthermore, it is the popular initiatives that extends the form and content of the process, often in conflict or ignored as much as possible by established NGOs. Thus popular initiatives is an autonomous variable at Stockholm with significant importance for future world politics. The NGOs including scientific NGOs plays a crucial role in limited fields but less in contested issues and in expanding linkages between issue-areas. They can often oppose the inclusion of new popular actors rather than expand participation and can be seen as a partly autonomous consensual middle ground with a role for establishing conventional knowledge an exchange information influenced by the other more autonomous three variables. Their role of contributing to establishing international institutions or regimes and to social learning emphasised by many observers that do not delineate between NGOs and popular movements or POs has its importance, but as we have seen the role of popular initiatives goes further than this. It is not only a question of knowledge exchange, consultation and social learning but direct physical struggle for getting space and long-time struggle for material resources central to the process. This course of events is manifested with the attempts and possibilities to occupy or stopping people from entering central positions a public events.

Further research needs to be done both to find out more about how states and business informally and maybe also intentional in secret influenced the process. The opening of the archives of correspondence between the US Embassy in Stockholm and Washington have so far reached 1966 and already proven to put new light on the relations between Sweden and the US in the Vietnam war issue at stake at the Stockholm conference later. These and other US state archives previously red taped can give more facts. Also the third world participation is of interest to investigate further to get a more balanced picture. But most important is to make more empirical and theoretical global studies of popular initiatives and their role in a broader world political picture not avoiding their capacity to also be independent in conflicts with other actors of the kind that is common when looking at states or business sector. This study have hopefully made a small mainly empirical contribution to such an attempt.

Tord Björk
comments can be sent to:
Tord Björk, e-mail:


References on UNCHE-NGO-popular movements relations

Aaronson, Terri, 'World Priorities', Environment, 14 (6), July-Aug 1972.

Åström, Sverker, Ögonblick, Stockholm: Bonnier Alba, 1992.

Bazell, Robert J., 'Human Environment Conference: The Rush for Influence', Science vol. 174, 22 October 1971.

Berry, R S, 'Only One World: An Awakening', Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Sep 1972.

Brenton, Tony, The Greening of Machiavelli, London: Earthscan and Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1994.

Budowski, Gerardo, 'A Certain Pre-Event Anxiety,' Uniterra 1, 1982.

Conca, Ken, 'Greening the United Nations: environmental organisations and the UN system,' Third World Quarterly 16 (3), 1995.

The Ecologist special issue June 72.

Ehrlich, Paul, 'A Crying Need for Quiet Conferences: Personal Notes from Stockholm', Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Sep 1972.

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Finger, Matthias, 'Politics of the UNCED Process', in Wolfgang Sachs ed., Global Ecology, London: Zed, 1993.

Finger, Matthias, 'Environmental NGOs in the UNCED Process', in Environmental NGOs in World Politics, Thomas Princen and Matthias Finger eds. London: Routledge, 1994.

Galtung, Johan, 'Ekologi och klasspolitik', in Är fred möjlig? Studier i fred och imperialism, Stockholm: Prisma,1975.

Gendlin, Frances,'Voices from the Gallery', Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Sep 1972.

Haas, Peter, Marc A Levy and Edward A Person, 'Appraising the Earth Summit: how should we judge the UNCED's success?', Environment 34 (8), 1992.

Haley, Mary Jean, Open Options: A Guide to Stockholm's Alternative Environment Conferences, Stockholm: 29 May 1972.

Hammarström, Tommy ed., FNL i Sverige: reportage om en folkrörelse under tio år, Stockholm: De Förenade FNL-grupperna, 1975.

Holdgate, Martin, 'Beyond the Ideals and the Vision,' Uniterra 1, 1982.

Hyman, Sidney, The Aspen Idea, Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1975.

Jacobsen, Sally, 'A Call to Environmental Order',Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Sep 1972.

Johnson, Brian, 'The United Nations' Institutional Response to Stockholm: A Case Study in the International Politics of Institutional Change.' International Organization, 26 (2), spring 1972.

Johnson, Keith, 'A Second Copernican Revolution,' Uniterra 1, 1982.

Maddox, John, 'The Missing Elements of Realism', Uniterra 1, 1982.

McCormick, John, Reclaiming Paradise: The Global Environmental Movement, Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1989.

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Morphet, Sally, 'NGOs and the environment', in Peter Willets ed., "The Conscience of the World": The Influence of Non-Governmental Organisations in the UN System, London: Hurst, 1995.

Nyberg, Mikael, Det gröna kapitalet, Stockholm: Miljöförbundet Jordens Vänner, 1996.

Oi Committee, The Hamilton Documents, Lome, Marawi City, Stockholm, Valdivia, St.Louis: Oi Committee/River Styx Press 1972.

Omamo, WilliamO., 'On the Folly and Ingenuity of Man', Uniterra 1, 1982.

Rowlands, Wade, The Plot to Save the World, Toronto/Vancouver: Clarke, Irwin & Co, 1973.

Smith, J Eric, 'The Role of Special Purpose and Nongovernmental Organizations in the Environmental Crisis,' International Organization, 26 (2), spring 1972.

Stone, Peter, Did We Save the World at Stockholm?, London: Earth Island, 1973.

Talbot, Lee M., 'A Remarkable Melding of Contrasts and Conflicts,' Uniterra 1, 1982.

Thompson Feraru, Anne, 'Transnational Political Interest and the Global Environment', International Organization, 28 (1), Jan 1974.

Train, Russell, 'Easy Enthusiasm and Simplistic Approaches', Uniterra 1, 1982.

Ui, Jun, 'Some wasted Efforts at the Environmental Forum', Uniterra 1, 1982.

Willets, Peter, 'From Stockholm to Rio and beyond: the impact of the environmental movement on the United Nations consultative arrangements for NGOs', Review of International Studies, 22, 57-80, Jan 1996.

Williams, Marc, 'Rearticulating the Third World Coalition: the role of the environmental agenda', Third World Quarterly, 14 (1), 1993.

Zacharias, Gun, Skarpnäck, USA: en bok om droger och politik, Stockholm: Förbundet mot droger, 1975.

Appendix i


Activities 4th to 16th of June 1972 in Stockholm coinciding with UNCHE,
(activities within brackets took place outside this time frame, those only planned are underlined and included if they were important as equivalent or symmetrical to actions that took place)

Type Popular Semi-official or with special oficial permit or cooperation Official

People's Forum

Dai Dong

Swedish Vietnam Committee conference

Environmental Forum

Distinguished - Lecture Series

Life Forum with Whaling teach-in

Conference media ECO Forum: Environment is politics Conference TV plan
Preparatory media Powwow newsletter   Official newsletter
Action days 4th of June international Action days (22nd of April Earth Day) (Later 5th of June action day World Environment Day commemorating the opening of UNCHE)
Actions Anti Ecocide demonstration Whaling manifestation UNCHE rose ceremony
Symbols Powwow symbol: Elm fist   UNCHE symbol: Man
surrounded by leaves
Trees (The Battle of the Elms 12th of May 1971) US delegation meets Alternative City at the Elms UNCHE tree planting
Slogan     Only One Earth
Transport Alternative city bikes UNCHE official white
bikes inauguration
UNCHE limousin fleet
Tourism Alternative city guide tours   Official guide tours
Police and illegal acts Plans to occupy Skeppsholmen and pro-claim a peoples' republic No police at drug liberal Hog Farm festival in Skarpnäck Mounted police horse stables, Skeppsholmen

Powwow manifesto

People's Forum declaration

Youth statement

Only One Earth

The Stockholm Conference: Only One Earth

NGO declaration

UNCHE declaration

Dai Dong declaration


Scientists Compendium of papers of the Jyväskylä scientific conference Dubos and Ward at
Third World dominated discussions OI committee declaration

Hamilton declaration

Hamilton regional documents

Founex report
UN regional prep.
National reports Independent national reports   Governmental national reports
Follow up Anti-nuclear power, alternative & third world solidarity movement ELC, EEB, IUCN, ICSU, WWF UNEP


Further UNCHE PR activity plans, sometimes far advanced and sometimes only ideas: Industry exhibition, Global satellite village TV program, Film competition, Vast audiovisual model of the planetary environment, Children's painting competition, Environmental song contest, Only One Earth quartet or orchestral piece, Interactive TV program, Only One Earth pop song. Posters and other information material was produced.



1 "Regimes can be defined as sets of implicit or explicit principles, norms, rules, and decision-making procedures around which actors' expectations converge in a given area of international relations." Stephen D. Krasner, 'Structural Causes and Regime Consequences: Regimes as Intervening Variables,' International Organization, 36, 1982, p 1.

2 Rosenau notes that some languages like German lacks a word signifying governance - "The notion of inter subjective systems of rule not backed by legal and constitutional authority is too improbable an aspect of political processes in the cultures that employ these languages to have allowed for convergence around a simplified, single-word designation of the concept.", Rosenau, James N., 'Governance, Order, and Change in World Politics', in Rosenau, James N. and Ernst-Otto Czempiel eds., Governance without government: order and change in world politics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1992, p 6. Also Swedish lacks this word but it can be questioned if at least in the Swedish case, the lack of the word also reflects the lack of a political practice of unconstitutional non-formal popular and other participation in politics. It can be argued that there is in Sweden a rather high tolerance even for popular actions that are in conflict with the constitution, at least in the case of environmental conflicts.

3 Rosenau 1992, p 9.

4 Rosenau, James and Mary Durfee, Thinking Theory Thoroughly: Coherent Approaches to an Incoherent World, Boulder: Westview Press, 1995 p 41.

5 Presented by Alan Scott, 'Political culture and social movements', in Political and Economic Forms of Modernity, John Allen, Peter Braham and Paul Lewis eds., Cambridge: Polity Press 1992, pp 161-2.

6 Bader, Veit Michael, Kollektives Handeln: Protheorie sozialer Ungleichheit und kollektives Handelns II, Opladen: Leske + Budrich, 1991.

7 Nerfin, Marc, 'Neither Prince nor Merchant - An Introduction into the Third System.', IFDA Dossier 56, 1986, pp 3-29.

8 Young, International Cooperation: Building Regimes for the Natural Resources and Environment, 1989. Finger and Princen, ed, Environmental NGOs in World Politics, 1994.

9 Willets 1996, Morphet 1995, Conca 1995. Also McCormick 1989 in his book Reclaiming Paradise: The Global Enviromental Movement is extensive when accounting for the Stockholm conference and its outcome but focus for the most part on the official level. For literature explicitly accounting for UNCHE see reference list.

10 In the book Environmental NGOs in World Politics Finger (1994:195) writes "Strong had already been the Secretary-General of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment held in 1972 and was a member of the World Commission on Environment and Development. Traumatised as he had been by heavy social movement protest in Stockholm 1972, Strong was determined from the very beginning to pre-empt any opposition to UNCED." We get a picture of the reaction of the official representative but not what made him so upset and made him try to arrange the things different next time he was in the same position and could influence the NGO arrangements.

11 In Uniterra 1, 1982.

12 Oi Committee, The Hamilton Documents, Lome, Marawi City, Stockholm, Valdivia, St.Louis: Oi Committee/River Styx Press 1972.

13 The main source of the role of Aspen institute is The Aspen Idea, a book made for its 25th anniversary 1975 by Sidney Hyman. The detailed listings of NGO cooperation between the UNCHE secretariat and institutes confirms a central role for Aspen Institute and other closely related foundations and new environmental institutes (IIEA), Johnson, B. 1972, Feraru 1974. (McCormick 1989:96) also mentions Aspen institute but without describing its character and only in the role of sponsorship for IIEA. McCormick also mentions Robert O. Anderson, chairman of an oil company, as a seed founder of IIEA but that at the core of the network is regular meetings and seminars with up to a hundred executives involved remains outside of the picture. The journalist Mikael Nyberg (1996) have with the help of The Aspen Idea made the role of this business NGO visible in his assessment of the role of transnational corporations in international environment and development processes the last 30 years.

14 McCormick 1989, Brenton 1994, Morphet 1995, Conca 1995, Willets 1996. The last time the third world initiative the Oi Committee International is mentioned is 1975 (Zacharias). Reminiscences of their voices are given by referring in general to radical opinions. But explicitly mentioned after 1975 apart from the established NGOs ICSU, IUCN, SCOPE and Friends of the Earth is only the American drug liberal hippie commune the Hog Farm.

15 Both Council of Europe and the UN includes among NGOs that can get status in relation to them federations of manufacturers and other commercial interest while at the same time excluding companies. The Council by explicitly stating that an NGO should have "a non-profit aim", UN implicitly by stating that the NGO's resources should come from members or voluntary contributions, Willets, Peter, "The Conscience of the World": the influence of non-governmental organisations in the U.N. system, London: Hurst & Co. 1995, p 3. For a discussion of the confusion concerning the definition of NGOs, see Gordenker, Leon and Thomas G Weiss, 'Pluralizing Global Governance: analytical approaches and dimensions', Third World Quarterly 16 (3) 1995.

16 Grove, Robert, The Greening of Imperialism, 1995.

17 McCormick 1989.

18 Shoup, Laurence H. and William Minter, Imperial Brain Trust: The Council on Foreign Relations and United States Foreign Policy, New York: Monthly Review Press, 1977.

19 For accounts of NGO-UN relations at the beginning see Seary, Bill, 'The Early History: From the Congress of Vienna to the San Fransisco Conference,' in Willets, Peter ed., "The Conscience of the World": the influence of nongovernmental organisations in the U.N. system, London: Hurst & Co. 1995, p 25-27.

20 If one should not include exhibitions for the public arranged by the industry at Atoms for Peace conferences organised by the UN.

21 Morphet 1995, pp 118-119.

22 For broader accounts see Jamison 1995 p 228-9, Brenton 1994 p 19-27, and McCormick 1989. All three tend to give most examples from the US but Brenton points at statistics from many countries showing similar growing public concern, mainly for local and domestic environmental problems. For a comparative in depth account on France, Germany, Great Britain, Sweden and the US, see Brand, Karl-Werner ed., Neue soziale Bewegungen in Westeuropa und den USA : Ein internationaler Vergleich, Frankfurt/Main: Campus, 1985.

23 Hyman 1975, p 252.

24 McCormick 1989, Brenton 1994, p 25.

25 The young theosophists sustained and fruitful solidarity, cultural and environmental efforts has not been described in any literature. Academicians have either been interested in formalised organisations like states, companies or non-governmental organisations within defined issue area or their interest have been social movements at their peak of national mass mobilisation. Diffusion of ideas between countries have only recently been object for more intensive study and then only between movements within the same issue area. The kind of qualitatively influential movement in both its local and international context here described falls outside the frameworks made by hitherto academic conceptualising.

26 Mimeographed document FAQUEST 1969-02-14/150/JF.

27 Hyman 1975, p 275.

28 Quoted by McCormick 1989 from Thomas W. Wilson, Draft Plan for the International Institute for Environmental Affairs, 21 September 1970 (unpubl.).

29 Hyman 1975, p 252.

30 McCormick 1989, p 47.

31 Stone 1973, p 19.

32 Rowlands 1973, p 35.

33 Stone 1973, p 19.

34 Åström 1992, p 164.

35 Stone 1973, p 20.

36 Åström 1992, p 163. See also McCormick 1989 p 110.

37 Stone 1975 notes: "just about everyone or at least everybody that seemed worthy of consultation had a chance to provide some input to the conference. There was only one exception and that was industry." p 25, and "large scale involvement of industry was ruled out on political grounds" p 43.

38 Quotes and the description of abstract levels from Rowlands 1973, pp 38-9.

39 Stone 1973, pp 45-6.

40 All NGOs at the 1st and 2nd PrepCom were accredited to ECOSOC. At the 3rd and 4th PrepCom 25 and 22 respectively participated, one each time not accredited.

41 Feraru 1974, Morphet 1995, Willets 1996. In spite of the clear linkage between the Strong and the closely related Anderson Foundation, Aspen Institute and IIEA through key UNCHE projects is this grouping not mentioned accept at random by the most comprehensive accounts as a technical help to the UNCHE secretariat for different initiatives.

42 Willets 1996, p 69.

43 Stone 1973.

44 Ibid, p 57-8.

45 Ibid, p 65.

46 Folin, Göran, 'En rörelse i tiden', in Beathe Sydhoff et al eds., 1930/80 arkitektur-form-konst, Stockholm: Stockholms kulturförvaltning konstavdelningen, 1980, p 113.

47 GP, Göteborgs-Posten 11.5 1972.

48 Newsweek 12.6 1972.
49 Zacharias 1975, p 49.

50 From an interview with a reporter from Time magazine in Ramparts sep 1972.

51 Time and Newsweek 12 June 1972.

52 Zacharias 1975 p 55.

53 One observer makes criticism against this decision to curtail the freedom of some journalists so important that he puts it on his first page in his book about the conference without explaining the background, Rowlands 1973, p 1.

54 DN 15.6 1972.

55 Zacharias 1975, p 80. None of the two examples from how Hog Farmers tried or succeed in stopping criticism against the US war in Indochina is accounted for by Anglo-American observers.

56 Rowlands 1973, p 97.

57 Hyman 1975, p 291. book: 1973 Who Speaks for Earth.

58 Interview with "Schäferkåren", a dog security guard staff commissioned by the municipal sports authorities to protect the sport installations at Skarpnäck 17.6 1972, appendix 1 in Zacharias 1975.

59 Expressen accounts for the sniffer village and the grass village as well, 13.6 1972.

60 Sociala avdelningens PM av den 30 maj 1972.

61 The interview is reported in extenso by Zacharias 1975, p 62-66.

62 DN Syd 7.6 1972 and SvD 8.6 1972.

63 Press release: Lowlands Weed Compagnie Statement III.

64 Kvällsposten 10.6 1972.

65 John Lambert, Forum Environment is Politics, June 12 1972.

66 Zacharias 1975, p 97.

67 John Lambert, Forum Environment is Politics, June 12 1972.

68 Stockholmspolisen Verksamheten 1972.

69 Interview with Ed Goldsmith, nov 1996.

70 Brenton 1994, p

71 Bulletin of Atomic Scientists Sep 1972, p 23.

72 Time June 19.

73 Interview with Björn Eriksson nov 1996.

74 Stone 1973, p

75 Stone 1973, p 133. New York Times June 9 1972 also emphasise the whaling ceremony and its character of reconciliation between generations organised by the Whole Earth Catalog and National Book Award winner Brand. "Strong urged the youths to continue grading the conscience of the world's governments. Mr. Strong remarks reached across the generation gap and his audience, rich in beards, long hair and blue jeans gave him an ovation."

76 Norra Västerbotten 9.6 1972 saying that almost all participants were from the US and at least half of them Hog farmers. More positive is New York Times who continues to report on whaling indicating sustained protests, "After two days of demonstrations" June 10 1972, later anti US ecocide demonstrations with 50 times as many participants are not accounted for by the same paper.

77 Gedlin, 1972, p 29. In contrast a newspaper like Le Figaro in Paris only accounts for Anti-Vietnam war protests with the FNL-flag.

78 DN 15.6 1972.

79 New York Times June 9 1972 made a hopeful prediction, "If the resolution [On US initiative for 10 years whaling moratorium] is passed the International Whaling Commission which meets in London late this month will find it hard to ignore."

80 Brenton 1994, p

81 Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, September 1972.

82 New York Times June 8 1972, quoting Train.

83 Rowlands 1973, p

84 Gendlin 1972, p 28.

85 Ibid, p 28.

86 Interview with Elisabet Vikund (former Wettergren) Nov 1996.

87 Environmental Forum program report, Wettergren 1972.

88 According to Gendlin 1972, others do not account for this debate and it seems like no offence against free speech is made except for "heckling" and the problem that the floor when lining up behind the microphones is so critical.

89 Aaranson 1972, p 12.

90 New York Times, 13.6, 1972.

91 Stone 1973, p 113 informs about that youth representations was a "problem area" but without saying what specific options existed. It is hard to doubt that the Hamilton youth conference initiated by the UNCHE secretariat was as globally representative for youth as was possible. Stone systematically excludes accounting for the Hamilton meeting but at random informs about it through indirect sources like an article by Bazell 1971 in Science and his remark about problematic youth representation.

92 Today the ECO initiator Ted Goldsmith have changed opinion and says that he and others were wrong at Stockholm and that Commoner was right in the population controversy between him and Ehrlich. Personal communication with Goldsmith November 1996.

93 Brenton 1994, p 43. Instead of informing the reader about Ehrlich support of coercive population control against poor and oppressed people Brenton chose to talk about Ehrlich scientific merits and in a footnote on p 41 how Ehrlich puts an emphasis 1990 that the environmental impact of an American is the same as that of 35 Indians or 280 Chadians or Haitians. The advocating of coercive population control is still part of the first Swedish edition 1972 of Ehrlich’s book the Population Bomb made in a Swedish edition to influence UNCHE. Ehrlich gradually emphasised population and consumption and then blaming especially industrial countries while deemphasising the coercive part of his message, especially after the controversy in Stockholm. This ignorance in accounting for the content of Ehrlich’s ideas is systematic the case of those making the protest against his free speech the only important part of the story as if the third worlder's had no other reason for their protests than pseudo-leftism and undemocratic wishes to restrict the free scientific discussion. Apart from this narrative of suppressed scientific Anglo-American open debate in a global setting Brenton's book is highly informative and often less biased and above all daring in evaluating international environmental politics.

94 Furthermore Stone is upset about that those organisations rich enough to invite those they want to deliver speeches is hindered full access to the public. Paul Ehrlich was not only "howled off the platform at the Forum", he was also "speaking on the invitation and the expense of the International Planned Parenthood Federation." (my italics) Stone 1973, p 133.

95 Ehrlich 1972.

96 The account of the discussion basically from Aaranson 1972.

97 Gendlin 1972, p 28.

98 Initiator of the influential report Limits to Growth 1972.

99 Gendlin 1972, p 29.

100 Quoted by Rowlands 1973, p 126.

101 Hyman 1975, p 289-290.

102 ECO, June 16 1972, p 3.

103 Rowlands 1973, p 90.

104 Stone 1973,

105 Rowlands 1973, p 100.

106 Aaronson 1972, Rowlands 1973, McCormick 1989, Williams, 1993.

107 Stone 1973, p 135.

108 McCormick 1989, p 101.

109 For the most comprehensive description of the Environmental Forum see Aaranson 1972.

110 Gendlin 1972, p 28.

111 Stone, Rowlands, Ehrlich, Gendlin all quote ECO and their criticism against the Environmental Forum for being captured by Commoner and third worlders. Rowlands talks about a leader crisis among the Swedish organisers . The exception among Anglo-American observers is Aaranson. The dominant Anglo-American criticism still today survives in the literature, Brenton 1994, p 43: "This mass of bodies [NGOs] pursued a debate in their own forum, which displayed an energy and enthusiasm often depressingly absent form the formal negotiations, but also taking on a heavily new left and third worldist flavour "

112 Interview with Ingrid Segerstedt-Wiberg.

113 McCormick, 1989, p 88. LDC and MDC is here abbreviations for Less Developed Countries and More Developed Countries or third world countries and industrialised countries.

114 Stone 1973, p 130.

115 Rowlands 1973, p 131.

116 Ibid, p 131.

117 Ibid, p 125.

118 Alter Chen, Martha, 'Engendering world Conferences: the international women's movement and the United Nations', Third World Quarterly, 16 (3), 1995, Connors, Jane, NGOs and the Human Rights of Women at the UN', in Willets, Peter, ed. 1995.

119 McCormick 1989, chapter 6.

120 Mostafa Tolba opening address on the session of Special Character of the Governing Council of UNEP, in Uniterra 2, 1982.

121 McCormick 1989 p 125.

122 For accounts of the problems facing the governmental agencies, see McCormick, 1989 pp 125-7, Brenton 1994, chapter 4.

123 Tolba, opening address, Uniterra 2 1982.

124 Jamison 1996, p 230.

125 Elzinga 1984.

126 Jun Ui criticize this UNEP's lack of study of environmental issues in social science, Uniterra 1, 1982, p 50.

127 McCormick 1989, p 101.

128 But the number increased. ELC assessed in 1982 that there were 2,230 environmental NGOs in developing countries, of which 60% had been formed after Stockholm and 13,000 in industrialised countries, of which 30% formed since Stockholm. McCormick, 1989, p101.

129 Quoted in Uniterra 2 1982, p 48 from World Environment Report.

130 Talbot's account for the non-governmental organisation IUCN at Stockholm is illustrative: "Russell Train, head of the US delegation, and I at that time were both members of the IUCN executive Board and there were people associated with IUCN who therefore had substantial background in conservation serving on many if not most other delegations." Talbot 1982.

131 Brenton 1994, p 55 notes that the intensity having rocketed in the 1960s fell back in the 1970s but not to the same low level as before from which it had started. In opinion polls in the US 40% had stated the environment as the most important problem in 1970 and only 10% by 1974-75 after this lowering further. In the UK and France interest dipped in a similar way. Only in northern Europe was the popular environmental concern unaffected.

132 Uniterra 1 1982.

133 Kitschelt, Herbert, 'Zur Dynamik neuer sozialer Bewegungen in den USA. Strategien gesellschaftlichen Wandels und 'American Exceptionalism' ', Karl-Werner Brand ed., 1985.

134 Although later the internationalisation of the popular environmental movement in Latin America came first with anti-nuclear gatherings in the end of the 1980s, in a setting were no division between nuclear power and nuclear weapons was useful as the military often was responsible for both.

135 Thorson, Inga, 'NGOs inflytande i FN,' Världen och vi nr 1-2, 1989.

136 Nation 10.7 1972.


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