In the era of the circular economy

Half a century ago, the "World Environment Day" was adopted by the UN with the aim of raising awareness among citizens around the world. In the last two decades, recycling has become part of the daily lives of billions of citizens, creating new generations with an environmental conscience. And since last year Greece, along with the other member-states of the European Union, has begun the implementation of the "EU Green Deal" plan for the transition to a modern society with a new philosophy and strict economic and environmental criteria. Are you ready for the... jump into a "green" future?

Every year, on June 5, the “World Environment Day” is celebrated around the world with impressive events, speeches and peaceful marches under the auspices of the United Nations.

The “World Environment Day” was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1972, during the first day of the Organization’s Conference on the Human Environment.In fact, it was the first conference with the intention of reaching an agreement, after the failed attempt by US President Harry Truman in 1948, which had reached a dead end and without an agreement.

Unbelievable as it may seem today, the environment and the protection of the planet are not mentioned anywhere in the UN Charter, since when the Organization was founded in 1945, it was not among the priorities of the leaders of international politics.

After all, the UN initially focused on rebuilding the post-war world, preventing another global conflict and preserving peace, while important social, humanitarian and other issues were left off the final agenda.
However, the 1972 Conference on the Human Environment, or the “Stockholm Conference“, as it went down in history, aimed after decades of disagreement and objections to lay the foundations for an international environmental protection policy and to sign an international agreement integrating human interactions and their impact on the planet’s natural environment.A conference that had begun as an initiative of Sweden in 1967 and had the warm support of western countries and many African and Asian countries.

On the contrary, the Eastern bloc states refused to participate in response to the non-recognition of East Germany, with the exception of Romania and Yugoslavia, while China and Cuba had unexpectedly come to the conference with specific positions.

The environment as a global issue

In the formation of public opinion and the change of attitude of powerful states, within a period of three decades, had contributed not only the admittedly until then “weak” internationally political “voices” of representatives from Africa and Asia, the so-called “Third World”, but also the studies of distinguished scientists, as well as the reports of non-profit organizations and institutions, even dependent on the most powerful industrial giants and multinational groups.

For example, the 1972 report of the ‘Club of Rome’ on environmental degradation and its link to specific factors, including industrialisation, over-exploitation of natural resources and the lack of a regulatory framework for nature protection, entitled ‘Limits to Growth.”The club was founded on the initiative of the Italian industrialist Aurelio Petsei and the British chemical engineer Alexander King and was attended by representatives of industry, academia and various social institutions.

The report concluded that if ecological, ethical and cultural trends did not change globally, humanity would experience a major environmental crisis by the end of the millennium, provoking international reactions.

Until then, at a higher political level, the prevailing view was that environmental problems were of minor importance and mainly of local interest, which had to be solved by governments at national level…
Of course, it was preceded by the “Conference on the Biosphere” of 1968 in Paris, under the auspices of UNESCO (educational, scientific and cultural organization of the United Nations), which examined the scientific basis of the rational use and preservation of natural resources and the causes of environmental degradation. The results of the conference were incorporated into the report entitled “Problems of the Man-Made Environment“, published in 1969 by the then UN Secretary-General, Ou Thand, which warned of the imminent risk of an environmental crisis. In fact, he pointed out that time was limited to seriously address air and water pollution, soil erosion and waste of natural resources and consequently important decisions had to be taken.

The 1972 conference in Stockholm, in addition to the “World Environment Day”, also adopted an action plan with 106 recommendations, while establishing an institution (known as the “United Nations Environment Programme” or “UNEP”) based in Kenya, to coordinate UN activities, to help countries adopt strong environmental policies and to enhance sustainable development through environmental practices and actions under the auspices of the International Organisation.

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