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  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: May 2010

5 - Setting the stage


The climate change issue is brought to the attention of the UN, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, is formed and work gets under way.

The report by the UN Commission on Environment and Development

The year was 1987. The autumn had come and the UN General Assembly had opened in New York. As described in the previous chapter the UN Commission on Environment and Development under the chairmanship of Gro Harlem Brundtland (Norway) had completed its report, Our Common Future, and it was about to be discussed in the General Assembly.

The report painted in broad strokes a picture of a rapidly changing world and an increasing exploitation of natural resources. It referred to successes in dealing with the global issues of development:

Infant mortality is falling; human life expectancy is increasing; the proportion of the world's adults who can read and write is climbing; the proportion of children starting school is rising; and global food production increases faster than the population grows.

But at the same time it was recognised, that

… there are more hungry people in the world than ever before, and their numbers are increasing. So are the numbers who cannot read or write; the numbers without safe water or safe and sound homes, and the numbers short of wood fuel with which to cook and warm themselves. The gap between rich and poor nations is widening – not shrinking – and there is little prospect, given present trends and institutional arrangements, that the process will be reversed.

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