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The Founex Conference - Aftermath

A Secretariat report to the Conference attempted to present more concrete definitions of additionality. They focused, inter alia, on the special interest of industrialized countries in supporting developing countries projects with international environmental implications. This was an early precursor to discussions held 20 years later that led to the establishment of the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

The report contained a very general definition of additionality with a purely national dimension: “Where it can be shown that the expenditure of additional funds to cover the environmental dimension of a project can be clearly justified in terms of the needs and criteria of the country concerned.”(77)


Regional follow-up seminars were held in the seats of the UN Regional Commissions in late summer and early autumn 1971. They attracted great interest and broadened the impact of the Founex report considerably.

The key persons from the Conference Secretariat in these seminars were Arslan Humbaraci (Africa), Salah Dessouki (Arabia), Gamani Corea (Asia), Alfonso Santa Cruz (Latin America).(78)

The official conference document on development and environment gave high relevance to the basic dilemmas outlined in the Founex report. It asked whether the growing awareness of the concepts of “one earth” and “one environment” would lead – as it should – to the nobler concept of “one humanity”, and “to a more equitable sharing of environmental costs and a greater international interest in, and responsibility for, the accelerated development of the less industrialized world.” Or, would it become “a narrow concern of the industrialized world, leading to many awkward confrontations with the developing world rather than to a new era of international cooperation.” The special report to the Conference stated that “the fundamental message of the environmental issue … is interdependence.”(79)

It was to be expected that North-South relations would dominate the last UNGA session before the Conference. Brazil again sought endorsement in the Group of 77 for its hard-line position, this time at the group’s meeting in Lima in October, but without success. Nevertheless, Brazil put forward its own draft resolution.

The main elements of the Brazilian text were a strong emphasis on national sovereignty, a call for additional financial resources to support environmental measures that developing countries might wish to take, and a limitation of the freedom of action of the Secretary-General of the Conference. The text further asked for a report to the upcoming UNCTAD III Conference in the spring of 1972 on the possible effects of environmental measures in industrialized countries on developing countries.

The Brazilian text risked a dangerous confrontation with industrialized countries on the eve of the Conference. Brazil was supported by a small group of developing countries, including Yugoslavia, which became the only country that completely supported Brazil until the end of the ensuing negotiation process. (80)

The broader draft sponsored by Sweden contained positive references to the preparatory process, indicating full support of Strong. A reference to conventions that could be adopted at the Conference, which had the US as a strong proponent, had to be toned down in light of objections from Brazil and the Soviet Union.(81)

A statement by Brazilian Ambassador Ozorio de Almeida was presented in a tone that the Swedish UN Mission judged was aimed to force an open confrontation with industrialized countries. However, this was avoided. Leading western countries continued to act with restraint while considerable differences among developing countries came out in the open. Several developing countries, including Iran and India, actively sought to exercise a moderating influence on Brazil. (82)


77 UN doc A/CONF48/CRP. 1 1972-05-31.
78 Marc Nerfin, e-mail to author 2009-03-17.
79 UN doc A/CONF. 48/10, p. 20, and CRP. 1.
80 Message Swedel NY 1971-12-09.
81 Message Swedel NY 1971-12-09.
82 Messages Swedel NY 1971-12-02, 1971-12-09, 1971-12-09.