The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, better known as the Stockholm Conference, was held in Stockholm, Sweden in 1972. In preparation for this conference, a meeting was held in 1971 where the developed nations were concerned about the environmental consequences of global development and the less-developed nations were concerned about economic development. Sustainable development was a compromise between the environmental concerns and the economic concerns.
The United Nations Environmental Programme was formed with a mandate from the Stockholm conference to address issues of both sound environmental practices and sound developmental practices. In 1975, the International Environmental Education Programme was begun, followed in 1980 by the World Conservation Strategy. In 1983, the Prime Minister of Norway, Gro Harlem Brundtland, was asked by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to establish and become the chairperson of a special independent World Commission on Environment and Development. Its function was to re-examine critical problems of the environment and development throughout the world and propose realistic methods to deal with them. Second, it was the function of this commission to strengthen international cooperation on environmental and developmental issues. Third, it was to increase the level of understanding and commitment to sustainable development on the part of citizens and other stakeholders, various organizations, business and industry, as well as governments. An outcome of the report from the commission after numerous meetings was the establishment of the UN Conference on Environment and Development and then Agenda 21 produced at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit.