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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Office of the Historian > Foreign Relations of the United States > Nixon-Ford Administrations > Volume E-1 > Chapter 5. International Environmental Policy
Foreign Relations, 1969-1976, Volume E-1, Documents on Global Issues, 1969-1972
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JUN 19, 1972


Subject: UN Conference on the Human Environment

From: Russell E. Train

The UN Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm, June 5-16) concluded on schedule, last Friday night.

It is my personal assessment that the Conference was a success. The United States played a strong role and gained practically all of its objectives.

The United States proposal for a $100 million Environmental Fund (your personal initiative in your February 1972 Environmental Message) provided the single concrete proposal which helped pull the entire action program together. Our commitment of $40 million toward the Fund was matched by about $25 million in specific pledges by other governments. A number of other expressions of general support were given.

The Conference also recommended establishment of a small, permanent environmental unit in the UN to coordinate UN environmental activities. This was another key US objective. Other major US objectives which were approved: support for an ocean dumping convention, support for a 10-year whaling moratorium (to be tested next week at the International Whaling Commission meeting in London which I am attending), approval of your recommendation for a World Heritage Trust, and a global environmental monitoring program.

We consistently opposed "politicizing" of the Conference with war and similar issues, and had good success, given the makeup of the Conference. We also consistently opposed using the C nference as an excuse for new development "add-ons". However, it is evident that it is not possible to discuss environmental protection wit the LDC's completely outside the context of development objectives.

The absence of Soviet Russia and the Eastern bloc countries was noted at the outset and thereafter went practically unremarked. Soviet non-participation had little effect on the Conference wok.

China, on the other hand, played a very visible role in the Conference. While they tended not to enter into substantive discussions in the working committees (and, in fact, gave little evidence of having much substantive environmental competence
in their delegation), it was plain that they were using the Conference to identify strongly with the "Third World" and to establish their leadership in that regard. While others can doubtless appraise their performance better than I, it is my view that they failed to win any new ground in this respect, and actually seemed to be losing ground at the end. China was alone at the closing session in not agreeing to a Declaration on the Human Environment.

Aside from my brief and quite measured reply to the Chinese attack on US policy, we avoided any criticism of China and entered into no direct arguments. Chinese attacks tended to be directed at "the superpowers" and at the "nuclear monopolists."

* * *

The US played a major role in the preparation for the Stockholm Conference and in the Conference itself. We now have an opportunity for positive follow-up activity. For example, a number of Conference recommendations (e.g., regulation of ocean dumping, control of toxic substances) are directly keyed to items in your domestic legislative program. The Stockholm recommendations should be called to the attention of Congress (already done by cable from Stec holm in the case of ocean dumping.)

Domestic follow-up should have an effective public dimension. There were about 500 accredited private organizations at Stockholm--many American. They are anxious to participate further and this interest can be developed effectively. Public discussions this summer and autumn, particularly at regional meetings, can help provide continuing attention to the Administration's very positive environmental program. I have already suggested to Bill Rukelshaus that we utilize EPA's regional organization to help this effort, recognizing that a number of other agencies, such as Interior, have a special interest. Media coverage, particularly TV, should be sought. Members of the US delegation at Stockholm, such as Shirley Temple Black, have indicated their readiness to help in such an effort.

This effort should get underway rapidly while public and media interest are high.

I also recommend your personal identification with the Stockholm Conference at the earliest practical date. I believe you should endorse the results in general terms.

A draft statement for your consideration is attached.

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