In the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, international debate and action were dominated by concerns over world peace, economic development and the elimination of colonialism. Environmental issues were framed by these concerns; developed world economies focused on resource security and scarcity while newly emerging countries sought to protect resource sovereignty. The international community first recognised the deterioration of the environment as an issue that required attention in its own right at the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment (UNCHE), held in Stockholm (Sweden). This provided a catalyst for the introduction of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) and initiated the modern era of global environmental governance. Since the UNCHE, the UN has acted as the facilitator of global

conferences and agreements on the environment. Its focus and ability to promote action on environmental issues has been influenced largely by the relationships between its more and less powerful member states. During the Cold War, splits were common between the USA and its allies (the first world), the Soviet bloc (the second world) and a large number of poorer, non-aligned developing nations (the third world). After the Cold War, a decade of US dominance shaped the outcomes of a series of global environmental conferences and agreements. Climate change is now at the centre of the global environmental agenda, but negotiations to address this most complex of problems have coincided with the emergence of a new world order. As Brazil, China and India become world powers and experience rapid industrialisation, the future direction of global environmental governance is uncertain.