Implications for NGOs

It should be noted that the institutional framework established as a result of the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment was framed largely from the perspective of governmental or intergovernmental institutions such as UNEP. The direct impact from or by NGOs was, however, limited. There was not a critical mass of organizations from the nonprofit sector to actively shape the evolution of the discourse among policy makers, and because the state (and its interstate institutions) was seen as the most legitimate actor at the time, the impact and role of the sector was limited.

Participating NGOs did find themselves engaged in a few ways to effect change, however. They were at the nexus of a flow of information between their global policymakers who were reviewing environmental concerns and a wide public, of which their constituents were a crucial part. They were able to share with their constituencies findings and conclusions related to the environment that surfaced from the meetings. In some cases, they were able to provide some of the necessary scientific expertise needed by UN or governmental representatives. The third way, though limited, was to lobby for specific programmatic efforts on governmental strategies related to addressing environmental concerns. While limited in their impact, these strategies did shape some of the efforts of NGOs that were involved in subsequent efforts.

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