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History – The international environmental Geneva

Environment is one of the most important fields of international activity in Geneva. Several conventions essential for environmental protection have established their secretariats here: CITES, the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species; the Basel Convention, concerned with the exportation of dangerous waste, and the Convention on Transboundary Atmospheric Pollution.

Nearby, in Gland (Canton of Vaud) are the offices of WWF International and the headquarters of the World Conservation Union (IUCN), which are two important players in non-governmental environmental action, as well as the secretariat of the Ramsar Convention on the protection of wetlands. The European Office of UNEP is also in Geneva. It is also worth mentioning that, since the Rio Earth Summit, most of the organisations of world importance in Geneva have been developing the environmental aspects of their activities.


1971 - Founex Report is prepared by a panel of experts meeting in Founex, Switzerland in June 1971. It calls for the integration of environment and development strategies. The report notes that while concern about the environment sprang from the production and consumption patterns of the industrialized world, many of the environmental problems in the world are a result of underdevelopment and poverty. This acknowledgement was a factor in persuading many developing countries to attend the 1972 Stockholm Conference.

1975 - Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (CITES) comes into effect. Its secretariat is in Geneva.

1983 - Decision to establish the World Commission on Environment and Development known as the Brundtland Commission. In May of 1984, an Organizational Meeting of the Commission was held in Geneva to adopt its rules of procedure and operation and to appoint a Secretary General to guide its work. In July of 1984, a Secretariat was established in Geneva, temporarily at the Centre de Morillon and later at the Palais Wilson.

1987 - "Our Common Future" (Brundtland Report) published. It ties problems together and, for the first time, gives some direction for comprehensive global solutions. It also popularizes the term "sustainable development".

1988 - Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change established with three working groups to assess the most up-to-date scientific, technical and socio-economic research in the field of climate change.IPCC Secretariat based in Geneva.

1988 - Centre for Our Common Future is founded in Geneva to act as a focal point for follow-up activities to the Brundtland Report.