January 1, 2009
The concept of megaconferences is not new. However, like most concepts, the approach has evolved considerably over time. The process was started during the early 1970s, somewhat inadvertently, by the United Nations, with its Conference on the Human Environment, in Stockholm, in 1972. This intergovernmental conference was initially proposed by Sweden to discuss existing and emerging environmental issues, including acid rain that was having significant adverse impacts on the ecosystems of the Swedish lakes and forests but which the Swedish authorities were unable to control because the atmospheric emissions originated from Germany and the United Kingdom. It was convened at a high decision-making level, and was instrumental in giving the nascent national and international environmental movements a major push. The success of the Stockholm Conference immediately spawned a new trend of megaconferences on priority global issues.