TWENTY years after the first World Conference on the Environment, held in Stockholm in 1972, the international community is faced with a serious dilemma. On the one hand it is more necessary than ever to increase economic activity in order to meet basic needs and ensure the well-being of a rapidly growing human family. On the other, human activities are making an unprecedented impact on the natural environment and on the global systems which sustain life on Earth, as is demonstrated by air and water pollution, the massive degradation of land resources, the destruction of landscapes, climate changes induced by the wasteful use of energy, the rapid disappearance of animal and plant species, and the depletion of the ozone layer.
In face of problems of such magnitude, inaction is out of the question. The General Assembly of the United Nations has thus decided to convene a new United Nations Conference, this time on Environment and Development (UNCED), which will be held in Rio de Janeiro