American Foreign Environmental Policy and the Power of the State

By Stephen Hopgood | Go to book overview

3
The Stockholm Conference and its Aftermath

Stockholm reflected, for the first time, the emergence of the idea of the 'collective responsibility of nations for the quality and protection of the earth as a whole'.1 It was attended by more than 1,200 delegates from 113 nations who met under the slogan 'Only One Earth'. As well as the intergovernmental gathering there were several alternative events, the most important of which was the 'official' NGO meeting called Environment Forum. There were other, increasingly radical, gatherings as well, such as the People's Forum, organized by Scandanavian environmental groups, and the Life Forum, organized by an American 'counter-culture' group.2

Of the hundreds of pressure groups which attended the Environment Forum -- much the most consequential NGO gathering -- the most from one country were from the United States.3 Although many were given observer status by Maurice Strong -- who had raised money to help NGOs attend -- they were not seen as integral to the process of policy-making itself. Indeed, according to Anne Thompson Feraru, they were welcomed mainly because they provided information and helped to communicate conference decisions to the general public. Strong and other UN officials did not see the 'pressure group' aspect of NGO activities as particularly important at all.4

____________________
1
Caldwell, International Environmental Policy, 55.
2
Peter Thacher, a former US official and an aide to Maurice Strong, recalls one of the main differences between 1972 and 1992 as the number of campaigners at Stockholm who were essentially hippies, as opposed to members of highly organized environmental pressure groups (interview with author, 13 Apr. 1993).
3
More than 300 organizations -- industry and environmental -- were granted observer status of which seventy-three were listed as based in the United States. Some organizations sent several delegates -- the Sierra Club is listed as sending eleven, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the World Wildlife Fund, four each, and Friends of the Earth, seven (A/conf.48/inf.6/rev. 1, 10/11/ 1972).
4
Anne Thompson Feraru, "Transnational Political Interests and the Global Environment", International Organization, 28/1 ( 1974), 42-3. Feraru recognizes a difference between international and domestic NGOs. Although the latter are

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