308. Report of the US Group of Experts on the Economic Commission for Europe’s Symposium on Problems Relating to Environment1 2
Report of the United States Group of Experts on the
Economic Commission for Europe’s Symposium on Problems Relating to
May 2-10, 1971
Title of the Meeting
The Symposium on Problems Relating to Environment sponsored by the Economic Commission for Europe was held in Prague, Czechoslovakia at the Culture Center. The Symposium itself was held from May 2-10, 1971, inclusive, and on May 11-15 attendees participated in a field trip to heavily polluted industrial areas in Ostrava, Czechoslovakia and Katowice, Poland.
Background of the ECE
The Economic Commission for Europe was established by the ECOSOC in March 1947. It now has thirty-one members: the European members of the UN (including the USSR); the Federal Republic of Germany; and the U.S. As provided for in the Commission’s terms of reference, other countries which are members of the United Nations but not members of the ECE may participate from time to time in the work of the Commission, when matters of particular interest to them are being considered. (e.g.-Japan in meetings concerned with motor vehicles and Canada on timber)
The Commission’s terms of reference are broad, and have been adapted to its changing character and work. The first years of the Commission were taken up with efforts to revive economic activity in Europe, efforts which were marked and sometimes frustrated by an increasing polarity between East and West that permanently influenced many of the procedures of the organization. This period was succeeded by one in which the cold war tensions lessened and the standing committees of the ECE (coal, gas, steel, etc) were able to broaden contacts between East and West in many fields. The Commission now appears to be moving into a third stage, characterized by an increasing concentration on problems of affluence which are endemic in most developed industrial economies.
From the U.S. view point the value of the ECE sterns from the following qualities:
- The ECE is the only UN organization composed almost exclusively of economically developed nations. Thus, a certain community of interest may be assumed to exist in [Page 3] seeking solutions to the problems that confront modern industrial economies, that goes beyond the regional character of the organization.
- Given its membership, the ECE has offered and hopefully will continue to offer opportunities for expanding East/West cooperation in technical, non-political fields including that of environment.
In 1967 at its XXII Plenary Meeting, the Economic Commission for Europe passed a resolution requesting its Executive Secretary “to take all necessary measures to prepare for a meeting of governmental experts from ECE countries to discuss environmental problems in their entirety.” The Government of Czechoslovakia offered to host the meeting in Prague, and the offer was accepted by the Commission. In 1970, following a United States initiative in support of a US national policy decision to focus greater attention on international environmental cooperation, the meeting was changed to an Environmental Conference with Ministerial level participation. It was planned that the Conference would approach its work in two ways: (1) via selected case studies on environmental problems; and (2) by a review of governmental actions aimed at environmental improvement based on individual government submissions. In addition to providing a forum for a major exchange on environmental problems between East and West, it was expected that the Prague Conference would establish a Group of Senior Environmental Advisers to the ECE with a mandate for developing a comprehensive ECE Program of Work on the Environment. The Conference was also to aid in coordinating international environmental activities and be a forerunner to the world wide UN Conference in Stockholm in 1972.
US View of the Conference Prior to Apri1 30, 1971
President Nixon has on a number of occasions stressed the need for cooperation among industrial nations to bring 20th century man and his environment to terms with one another. He specifically singled out the ECE as the major forum for East-West cooperation on environmental matters.[Page 4]
It was hoped that the Prague Conference would lay the foundation for a major long term program of environmental cooperation between Eastern and Western nations. With that view in mind and to highlight our seriousness in that regard, Mr. Russell Train of the Council on Environmental Quality, Mr. John Erlichmann, Special Counsellor to the President, and two U.S. Senators, together with Mr. Christian A. Herter, Jr. of the Department of State were designated to participate as members of the United States Delegation.
Our specific objectives at the Conference prior to April 30th were inter alia:
- to have the Conference establish a permanent group of Senior Environmental Advisers to provide overall guidance and coordination to the varied ECE environmental activities and to implement the recommendations of the Prague Conference.
- to have the Conference approve the United States launched initiative for the design and implementation of an information system to facilitate the flow of environmental data among ECE members.
- to have the Conference lay the foundation for the exchange of information and the development of East-West programs in the field of solid waste management.
- to have the Conference call for a seminar on the relationship between agriculture and environment objectives.
- to have the Conference promote the establishment of international arrangements between contiguous countries aimed at resolving specific environmental problems relating to areas of their common interest. We had in mind the Baltic Sea, Danube River, and the Adriatic and Mediterranean Seas. Not being contiguous to any of these problem areas, it was not our intention to push cooperation on any inordinately.
- to have the Conference set a favorable climate and offer recommendations to the 1972 UN Conference on the Environment.
ECE Plenary Session (April 19-30) Reduces Conference to A Symposium Because of the East German Problem
The ECE’s rules of procedure do not provide for formal participation in its meetings by countries that are neither members of the ECE nor members of the UN or its specialized agencies. Although East Germany is not a member of these organizations, on occasion its individual experts have attended ECE sponsored seminars and symposia held in Eastern European countries as individual guests of the host government. They have had no official status at these meetings.
The United States position prior to the Plenary meeting was to accept participation by individual East Germans in the Conference as guests of the host government, rather than the ECE, provided they were seated in a fashion that clearly indicated they were not official participants. Also we accepted the possibility that they would participate in the work of the Conference, provided their remarks were not reflected in conference documents. The thrust of such a policy was to accommodate the interest of working together on non political subjects, while not enhancing the international prestige of the East German region.
Prior to the Plenary meeting the United States had hoped the Commission at the Plenary would delegate to the ECE Conference on the Environment the authority to:
- consider and approve on the Commission’s behalf, the establishment of a new principal subsidiary body of the Commission entitled “Senior Advisers to ECE Governments on Environmental Problems
- agree upon the terms of reference and the short and long term programs of work and priorities of this new subsidiary body.
- request the Executive Secretary thereafter to take all other necessary steps required for implementing decisions of the ECE Conference on environment
During the 1971 Plenary Session, the Soviet Union and its European allies sought to obtain East German entry into the ECE. Failing in that effort, they demanded that the GDR be officially invited to attend the Prague Conference on environmental problems. While the United States and other [Page 6] Western European nations attached great importance to the ECE Conference, they were convinced that a non-political Conference of this sort should not be used as a tool to enhance East Germany’s political status. Finally in an effort to save the meeting, a compromise was worked out. The Commission decided to:
1. “rename and restructure the ECE Conference on Problems Relating to Environment as the ECE Symposium on Problems Relating to Environment, which shall be organized in accordance with ECE practices for seminars and symposiums held outside Geneva, and with the sole purpose of providing an opportunity for an exchange of views on selected problems in this field.”
It should be noted that a Conference has exchanges of views followed by negotiated statement of conclusions and recommendations. It is empowered to make decisions and recommendations to governments. A Symposium is a meeting of technically qualified experts who are not necessarily instructed, although they may be expected to be aware of their Government’s views on the subjects under discussion. Such experts are not considered to be instructed delegates speaking for their Governments. The final report is written by the Secretariat after the Symposium is over, although often with the assistance of rapporteurs drawn from the participants. Political subjects are not discussed. Discussions are not reported as are debates in the report of a Conference, but statements and papers contributed by participants may be summarized. Sessions of a Symposium, as contrasted with Conferences, are not open to the press.
The effect of this compromise solution was to permit East German experts to participate in the Symposium as guests of the host government. The various nations reduced the level of participation in the meeting, for Ministers who do attend Conferences, do not normally attend Symposia. Thus Messrs Train, Erlichman and the Senatorial members of the proposed US Delegation withdrew at the last minute. Mr. Christian A. Herter, Jr., Special Assistant to the Secretary of State for Environmental Affairs became titular head of the United States Groups of Participants.[Page 7]
ECE Plenary Establishes Senior Advisers to ECE Governments on Environmental Problems
In order not to unduly interrupt its environmental program, the Commission at the Plenary succeeded in establishing the group of Senior Environmental Advisers, whose creation had originally been contemplated for the Conference. In the words of the Commission’s report on the Plenary it was agreed:
“To establish a Principal Subsidiary Board of the ECE entitled ‘Senior Advisers to ECE Governments on Environmental Problems’ and to authorize the Executive Secretary, upon full consultations with all member Governments of ECE to convene a meeting of this body on an ad hoc basis as soon as practicable with the following tasks:
- to take into account the discussions held at the Symposium;
- to consider the outlines of programs of work for submission to the twenty-seventh session of the Commission
- to outline SCE’s contribution to the Stockholm Conference on Environment.”
It became clear then that even after the difficulties experienced at the Plenary Meeting, the ECE could still hope to make a useful contribution to international environmental efforts if further political difficulties were avoided at the Symposium.
Political Atmosphere at the Symposium
Initially there was an atmosphere of tension at the Symposium, reflecting the hard bargaining at the ECE Plenary, the visible presence of the GDR and various in-appropriate comments by the Czech hosts in their opening remarks. As the Symposium progressed, the Eastern European participants made obvious attempts to improve the atmosphere. The East German observers sat at a table, apart from other participants, and behind a sign clearly indicating they were guests of the host government.[Page 8]
During the discussion the Eastern European participants, including those from the GDR, concentrated on substantive matters; but did make a concerted effort to have the GDR mentioned in the report summarizing the statements at the Symposium (the report was prepared by the Secretariat with the help of rapporteurs drawn from participants). The Soviet Union and its allies focused on including statements they had made in the general debate expressing approval of the GDR presence. After the US rapporteur rejected this proposal, they proposed a “compromise” in which expressions of thanks to the Czechoslovakian Government for having invited the GDR would be reported. This idea was also rejected by the West, whereupon the Eastern European nations dropped the idea of including mention of the GDR.
Forecast for the 1972 UN Conference
The Soviet Union, at the Prague Symposium, mentioned that it looked forward to having the GDR as a full member at the UN sponsored Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment in 1972. Just what their attitude will be on this issue prior to and at the Conference will depend on various political factors.
Agenda for the Symposium
In agreeing to reduce the Conference to the status of a Symposium, the ECE’s Plenary Session adopted the following agenda for. the Symposium:
“A. Opening of the Symposium:
- introductory statement by the Executive Secretary;
- election of the Chairman and two Vice-Chairman of the Symposium;
B. Survey of the present environmental situation, including a detailed examination of problem sectors and problem areas;
C. Discussion of various means of environmental improvement through action on national and international levels.”
Despite this ostensibly reduced agenda, the Symposium covered virtually the same subject matter as had been originally planned for the Conference. It did this via selected case studies on environmental problems, and by a review of governmental actions aimed at environmental improvement based on individual government submissions. However, as explained above in constrast to a Conference Which can adopt action proposals, the Symposium. only provided for an exchange of views and a report of the various items covered.
The following tabulation shows the countries and organizations represented at the Symposium and the number of participants from each. Altogether 250 persons participated in the work of the Symposium.
ECE Member Countries:
- Belgium (7)
- Bulgaria (10)
- Byelorussia (1)
- Czechoslovakia (27)
- Federal Republic of Germany(9)
- Finland (7)
- France (6)
- Greece (1)
- Hungary (7)
- Ireland (2)
- Italy (5)
- Luxembourg (1)
- Netherlands (9)
- Norway (5)
- Poland (10)
- Portugal (7)
- Romania (7)
- Spain (7)
- Sweden (6)
- Switzerland (6)
- Turkey (4)
- Ukraine (2)
- U.S.S.R. (9)
- United Kingdom (6)
- U.S.A. (11)
- Yugoslavia (7)
Governments Participating in a Consultative
- Holy See (1)
- Canada (5)
- India (2)
- Japan (2)
- Tunisia (1)
The Following International Organizations Were
- United Nations
- Secretariat for UN Conference (2)
- UNCTAD (2)
- UNIDO (1)
- ILO (1)
- FAO (3)
- UNESCO (2)
- WHO (2)
- IBRD (2)
- WMO (1)
- IAEA (1)
- GATT (1)
- Non-Governmental Organizations
- International Cooperative Alliance (1)
- International Union of Local Authorities (1)
- World Federation of Trade Unions (1)
- Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (1)
- International Council for Building, Research, Studies and Documentation (1)
- International Federation of Business and Professional Women (1)
- International Union of Building and Savings and Loan Associations (1)
- International Union for the Conservation of Nature (1)
- European Cultural Foundation (1).
- International Commission of Acoustics (1)
- International Council of Environmental Law (1)
- International Federation of Landscape Architects (1)
- International Union for the Protection of Life (1)
- Stitching CONCAWE (1)
- Smithsonian Institution (1)
- Intergovernmental Organizations
- Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (1)
- OECD (1)
- EEC (4)
- Others Present as Guests of the Host Government
- GDR (9)
- United States Participants:
- Mr. Christian A. Herter, Jr., Special Assistant to the Secretary of State for Environmental Affairs;
- Mr. Alvin Alm - Council on Environmental Quality;
- Mr. Paul Brace - Department of Housing and Urban Development;
- Mr. Simon Bourgin - United States Information Agency;
- Mr. Leonard Felsenthal - U.S. Mission to the European Office of the United Nations, Geneva;
- Mr. Fitzhugh Green - Environmental Protection Agency;
- Mr. Heyward Isham - Council on Environmental Quality;
- Mr. Patrick Mulloy - Department of State;
- Mr. Charles Orlebeke - Deputy Under Secretary, Department of Housing and Urban Development;
- Mr. Thomas Smith - Department of State;
- Mr. Laughlin Waters - Public Member - Attorney, Los Angeles
Work of the Symposium
Opening of the Symposium
Introductory Statement by the Executive Secretary
The Symposium was opened by the Executive Secretary of the ECE, Mr. J. Stanovnik, who presented an introductory statement. He indicated that a comprehensive approach was needed to solve environmental problems and that attention to the overall consequences of economic growth and technological change could no longer be postponed. He indicated that technological advances could not always be regarded as an improvement of our civilization and that the secondary effect i.e. the social and long term effects of innovation should be [Page 12] more properly taken into account than has been done in the past. He indicated that the development, (1) of a broader concept of human welfare, which would encourage technology that would have favorable impacts on environmental quality, and (2) of new concepts for national environmental policy were the major tasks of the symposium.
Election of Chairman and Two Vice-Chairmen
After the Executive Secretary of the ECE made his statement, the Officers of the Symposium were elected. Mr. K. Lobi (Czechoslovakia) was elected Chairman and Mr. Hook (Sweden) and Mr. Wilkinson (United Kingdom) were elected Vice Chairmen.
Survey of the Present Environmental Situation, Includinq a Detailed Examination of Problem-Sectors and Problem-Areas
The purpose of the introductory reports was to orient the symposium as a whole and to draw attention to the main socio-economic and other major governmental problems of environmental policy faced in different countries. The first introductory report, presented by the UK stressed that man, responsible for destroying the environment, could also re-create it. Each country, it said, must strike a balance between technological development and the welfare of society. The second introductory report presented by Czechoslovakia discussed the environmental disfunctions caused by industrialization. It cautioned against over-stressing them, since industry was the major means of increasing wealth. It urged nations to judge investments in environmental improvement by criteria other than those used in evaluating production activities. Various nations commented on the reports.
The Symposium then proceeded with a survey of the present environmental situation, including a detailed examination of problem sectors and problem areas. The discussion of problem sectors was based on a series of studies prepared by government rapporteurs and supplemented by other studies prepared by international organizations.[Page 13]
Representatives of Czechoslovakia and the IAEA summarized their papers and a discussion ensued. It was clear that this fundamentally important sector of industrialized nations is responsible for some of the very worst environmental nuisances; and since demand for energy is expected to increase rapidly - the problem will get worse. Since energy facilities serving the generation and transfer of power are widely spread over the inhabited environment, their interference cannot be said to be limited to certain industrial areas only. It was agreed that stimulation of research, relating to the most critical phases of energy production such as the desulphurization of fuel; on problems of waste heat and cooling; and environmentally safe disposal of radioactive nuclear waste is urgent. The Swiss indicated they had come. to the conclusion, based on their own experience that a water cooling system was not as effective as an air cooling system.
The FRG paper indicated that environmental action aimed at elementary disfunctions generated in the metal industry section necessarily must focus on the preventing of air and water pollution. More research is needed to find technical solutions to the problem of red dust (ferrous oxides) as well as flouride emissions in the production of aluminum. Another urgent problem for research is to find a method for reducing noise in metal shaping processes where current noise control measures cannot be applied, and thus to eliminate the danger of loss of hearing to the workers involved.
Chemicals Including Petrochemical Industries
The principal paper was presented by the USSR. It dealt almost exclusively with problems of waste emissions and effluents. In the subsequent discussion, it was suggested that because certain chemicals [Page 14] are so toxic and so persistent, a thorough re-examination of the positive and negative aspects of the contributions of this industry to economic growth and human welfare might seem advisable.
Belgium presented a highly technical paper on pollution problems associated with the production of building materials, particularly concrete, clay and limestone. The paper detailed the extent of pollution hazards such as dust, toxic gases, fumes, acid and landscape spoilage occasioned by mining, production and transportation of these materials. Reaction to the paper was perfunctory.
The paper presented by Switzerland related the increase in GNP to an increase in the volume of transportation, suggesting that the scope of the problem would continue to increase in the future. The paper dealt principally with traffic and the environment; specifically with the problems of noise, air pollution, water pollution, and aesthetics. The comments on air pollution were very general, calling for limitations on automobile emissions and the introduction of emission standards in the most general terms. It was also noted that one million cars require twenty five square kilometers of parking space, and 160-600 square kilometers of road space when circulating. From this it concluded that mass transportation is the only feasible answer to problems caused by the automobile.
The presentation by the UK made clear that the question is not one of lack of know-how on what needs to be done, but is rather a question of cost. Technically there exist ways of eliminating the major part of solid waste and of purifying polluted water flows. The burden on the waste management section would be less, if both production and conservation were geared towards reducing, instead of increasing waste by means of more sophisticated manufacturing and recycling techniques, by an increased durability of products, by their prolonged use, simplified sale and return, more systematic repair and maintenance, etc.
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
Papers by Hungary and the FAO both indicated that agricultural and forestry areas which are relatively less threatened by pollution as such, are increasingly endangered by rapid industrialization. The increased use of chemical products and the mechanization of modern agriculture call for certain measures to be taken against further deterioration of these areas. Spain suggested that the ECE assume responsibility for drawing up a map showing the extent of soil erosion on the European continent. It was also indicated that the ECE and FAO should cooperate very closely on matters affecting the agricultural and forestry environment.
An examination of related types of geographic areas, from the point of view of their environmental problems and remedial action needed was also undertaken. Discussions were based on a series of studies prepared by government rapporteurs and supplemented by international organizations. [Page 16] discussions revealed that the exchange of information and national experience in tackling environmental problems of complex areas was most useful as a means of promoting solutions. It also was suggested that joint practical actions could become desirable when the problems of environmental disfunctions transcended national frontiers.
Metropolitan Areas & Regions
The basic paper was presented by France on the Marseille metropolitan region. The region, it Was pointed out, has major problems of rapid population increase, uncontrolled land development and industrial pollution. In the discussions, stress was, laid on the need for comprehensive regional planning in order to prevent uncontrolled growth. It was suggested that international cooperation and coordination were needed in instances where the development of metropolitan regions straddle national borders.
The environmental problems arising in such ecological entities as river basins were discussed on the basis of a report submitted by the United States using the pollution of the Potomac River as an example. In the discussions, it was agreed that governments must do a better job of anticipating economic and demographic growth if they are to overcome waste treatment plants receiving waste flows in excess of their capacities. The conclusion was drawn that there is a need for comprehensive institutions to operate the liquid and solid waste disposal systems of entire regions.
Countryside Reqions Attracting Mass Tourism
The core of this session was a well prepared paper from Yugoslavia outlining its plan for handling mass tourism in its prime tourist area - the Dalmatian coast. It stressed the need for integrated planning and organization of tourist areas, tying in the economic development of an area with [Page 17] firm insistence on preserving historic and scenic values. In the discussion, it was noted that tourism can and does contribute to the destruction of the landscape especially by its ancillaries such as roads. airstrips. cars. parks and restaurants, etc.
A participant from Poland presented a paper on industrialized regions; stressing the same disfunctions with its effects on air, water and natural landscape as was found in metropolitan areas. As in metropolitan areas, participants agreed there is a need for coordinated planning of industrial regions.
The paper presented by the Italian participant indicated that the aim of preservation is to keep historic buildings in existence as living components of the contemporary urban nation. The great interest in preservation of historic environments would tend, he said, to show that human beings have an emotional need which cannot be satisfied by contemporary housing estates. Participants pointed out that tremendous economic and demographic pressure on valuable urban space threatened the existence of many zones of historic value and interest.
Panel Discussion of Major Socio-Economic Questions Relating to Environment
A panel discussion was held on major socio-economic questions relating to environment. The panel was composed of four major thinkers in the field, including Mr. Allan Kneese of Resources for the Future, who acted as consultants to the Secretariat. They agreed, among other things, that it was advisable to include the real costs of environmental improvement in the respective price of products, to prevent pollution by fines and charges, and to use various kinds of financial stimuli to persuade producers and consumers to change their preferences and technologies. It was thought [Page 18] that subsidies paid from the state budget would not be a strong incentive, and thus should not become the major method of financing environmental improvements. Subsidies, it was agreed, could be usefully applied under some circumstances.
The panel members found it undesirable to focus On adopting uniform standards on the international level, but emphasized the necessity for nations to develop internationally a framework for consultations to reduce conflict - both on trans-boundry pollution and effects of differing standards on international trade.
International Arrangements for the Exchange of Information
The discussion centered around the ECE proposal for a decentralized information system that would permit member countries to have access to current environmental information. The U.S. fully supported the report’s general conclusions that the ECE begin with a strongly decentralized transmission system with the Secretariat’s role limited mainly to receiving and transmitting requests for information to national focal points and perhaps providing methodological guidance. The US urged the Secretariat to convene an ad hoc group of experts to work out the frame of references for such a system. The USSR supported the proposal; and it was agreed that the Secretariat would call a meeting of such an ad hoc group of experts prier to this fall’s meeting of the ECE’s Senior Environmental Advisers.
Discussion of Various Means of Environmental
Improvement Through Action on National and, International
Government Organizational & Institutional Arrangements
Six countries made presentations under this heading, covering long term governmental objectives, national legislation, and organizational and institutional arrangements. These countries were: France, USSR, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, and the United States. The presentations closely adhered to the papers previously submitted and elicited no significant new information.[Page 19]
The French paper was the most sophisticated and lucid of this group, while the Soviet paper restricted itself to the general endorsement of environmental virtue without specifying the regulations to effect these principles or the precise standards. Nevertheless, in private conversations, one of the Soviet participants, Mr. Kunin, Deputy Chairman, Scientific Council on Environment, Soviet Academy of Sciences, said that they were considering forming a new high-level policy and administrative organization to deal with environmental problems. This body would be headed by the Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministries in order, to give it the proper impact within government, and the day-to-day operation of the group would be handled by an official of ministerial rank. In addition, the powers of the Ministry of Water Resources are to be extended and regulatory authority now given to other ministries, such as agriculture, are to be consolidated under this Ministry.
Ending their presentation the Soviets stressed particularly the basic theme that environmental action must take place on the national level and that while there could be cooperation between nations, there should be no new international body superimposed upon existing national organizations.
Environmental Research and Education
During this session only a few of the speakers came to terms with the subject. Mr. Isham of the United States, led off by describing two types of research organizations which the U.S. Government supported: (1) the National Science Foundation, which spent $361 million last year researching environmental systems in advanced technology and applications, and which worked closely with the Council on Environmental Quality; and (2) the Environmental Institute, recently proposed by President Nixon as a mechanism for studying problems of long-range interest to man in both policy and applied research. Both these organizations would use public and private funds.
The Delegate of the International Union for Conservation of Natural Resources came next. Environmental education of the broadest type, he pointed out, needed less instruction in specifics than in interpretation of existing knowledge, in showing man how to understand and enjoy his environment. The introduction of this approach [Page 20] in training teachers was said to be critical, and the Soviet Union, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom, among other countries said they were already programing this approach into teacher training.
The Polish, Bulgarian, Romanian, and Czechoslovak Delegates followed by simply listing their institutional science arrangements (Academy of Sciences, university science curriculum, high school science courses), and describing them in environmental terminology.
The contribution of a second Czechoslovak speaker, an officer of the Czechoslovak Center for Pollution and Environmental Research, was interesting only because of a single sentence. “We have to pay much more attention to war and disease”, he said, “than to the struggle for proper environment.”
The UNESCO Delegate followed with a brief rationa1 plea for support of that organization’s environmental pro-grams. The World Meteorological Organization Representative described changes in the atmosphere due to non-natural causes in the last century, that made WMO’s new Global Monitoring Network of first importance in the years t. come.
In view of the long exposition by the Eastern European countries of what their universities were doing in the environmental field, very little of which was actually legitimate or new, it is regrettable that the U.S. was not prepared by proper briefing materials to fully discuss what American universities are doing. Most American universities have now reorganized the scientific and social disciplines impinging on the environment into central inter-disciplinary departments, with new curriculums to suit this purpose. Environmental studies and ecology are now among the most-sought after studies at U.S. universities. Environmental law has been set up as a separate study by many major law schools, etc. The new American contribution in environmental education is certainly the most outstanding of all, and unfortunately we were not prepared to respond.
Financial, Fiscal and Other Economic Measures
This topic was introduced by studies submitted by Poland and Sweden. The former considered the problems involved from the typical angle of centrally planned e onomies; the latter presented an analysis of the theoretical a well as the practical aspects implied when various economic policy devices were used in the field of environment der characteristic market economy conditions.
Discussions revealed that efforts were being made, as far as possible, to apply the principle that any damage to the environment should be charged to the economic sec ion which caused the damage. It also clearly emerged from discussions that in the long run the less costly policy in environmental matters would be to prevent rather than to cure disruptive effects.
The Prague Symposium on the Environment ended on May 10th with the endorsement in principle of a report prepared by the Secretariat with help of rapporteurs drawn from the participants. The GDR was not mentioned in the report, which is a reasonably good summary of discussions at the Symposium.
Two sets of draft conclusions for transmission to the Senior Environmental Advisers were prepared by the Secretariat. The first set of conclusions dealing with the discussions on problem sectors and areas was agreed to, and made part of the report. The second set of conclusions dealing with the discussions of economic, fiscal and government policies went far beyond the discussions which took place in the Symposium, and participants objected to its inclusion in the report. It will be circulated to governments as a Secretariat document for their consideration and comment prior to the meeting of the ECE’s Senior Environmental Advisers this autumn.
The Symposium ended with speeches” of good will by all concerned.[Page 22]
The accomplishments of the Symposium were not inconsiderable. It added momentum for environmental control and reform in both Western and Eastern Europe; it produced a valuable body of literature in problem and sector areas for the working experts; it provided rare face-to-face contact and exchange between the officials on both sides of Europe concerned with environmental correction; and it produced both a pattern for accomplishment and a warning of some dangers for Stockholm. Hopefully the Group of Senior Environmental Advisers to ECE Governments, which will have its first meeting this autumn, will construct an ECE environmental program upon the foundation laid by the Symposium. It is hoped that the Senior Environmental Advisers will adopt a long-term program of work in environment for the Economic Commission for Europe.
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970-73, SCI 41 ECE. No classification marking. Drafted by Patrick Mulloy on July 12.↩
- The report summarized the results of the symposium held in Prague, Czechoslovakia. The symposium was downgraded from “conference” status because of the problem of East German representation.↩