Stockholm wants to use the 50th anniversary to speed up the implementation of measures against climate change, species extinction and littering. Climate protectors criticize the lack of planned clear commitments.

The two-day Stockholm 50 environmental summit has started in the hometown of leading climate activist Greta Thunberg.

Sweden’s King Carl XVI. Gustaf welcomed delegations from all over the world to the Stockholm fair, which, 50 years after the first UN environment conference, will focus on the question of how to speed up the fight against global problems such as global warming, species extinction, environmental pollution and littering planet can be increased.

In 1972, Stockholm was also the scene of the very first UN conference to deal with human environmental issues. The meeting is therefore considered to be the birth of international environmental policy. Among other things, the UN environmental program Unep was launched at that time. Many countries then created environment ministries. Since then there have also been numerous global environmental protection agreements.

King Carl Gustaf said in his opening speech that the 1972 conference was a historic event and much has been done since then. In view of the climate and environmental crisis, he added: “But let me make it clear: we don’t have another 50 years to reverse the trend.” According to the IPCC, time is running out. “If we want to limit global warming, then the next few years will be crucial.”

«Global well-being at risk»

UN Secretary General António Guterres also pointed out the progress made since 1972, for example in saving the ozone layer. “But today, global well-being is at risk, in large part because we have not delivered on our environmental promises,” he said. With increasing population and greater prosperity, humanity’s ecological footprint has become unbearably large.

“Earth’s natural systems cannot keep up with our demands,” Guterres said. “We must now change course and end our senseless and suicidal war on nature.” He called on G20 governments to phase out coal energy completely by 2030. He called on financial actors to stop financing fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy instead.

Sweden’s Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson saw the world at a crucial juncture where the implementation of measures needed to be accelerated. The climate and environmental crisis affects everyone, but the poorest are hit hardest, she said. No one should be left behind in the green transition, and the fight for climate and environment should not be forgotten as a result of the war in Ukraine. The message from her country is clear and clear, said Andersson: “Going green is not only possible – it is the way to create growth, jobs and prosperity for everyone.”

«A healthy planet for the prosperity of all»

Sweden is co-hosting the summit with Kenya and in cooperation with the United Nations. Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has called for all countries to aim to develop a comprehensive and transformative package of pro-environmental actions by the next World Climate Change Conference (COP27) later this year in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Under the motto «A healthy planet for the prosperity of all – our responsibility, our opportunity», 50 years of global environmental policy will be celebrated at Stockholm. On the other hand, according to the organizers, the meeting should serve, among other things, as a stepping stone for the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement. Messages and recommendations should come out, for example on the conversion of the energy sector and the food industry.

New commitments and resolutions were not expected, which had previously led to criticism from climate and environmentalists. They complained that nothing concrete could be expected and that there was nothing to celebrate in view of the climate crisis. The climate reporter for Swedish radio, Erika Bjerström, also addressed critical words to her country. “What the world didn’t need was another climate talk show, which is this,” she said. “It takes concrete decisions and measures.”

Andersson opposed it. “This is not a meeting that sets new goals, because the world has already set ambitious goals,” she said before the summit began. Rather, the purpose of Stockholm 50 is to do more and more quickly after the conference.