As Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) from 1976 to 1992, Mostafa K. Tolba had as much insight into, and influence on, the development of international environmental policy as anyone. In this book, he tells the story of the negotiations that led to a number of landmark agreements, such as the Vienna Convention on Ozone and its Montreal Protocol, the Basel Convention on Hazardous Wastes, and the Biodiversity Convention. The book stands as the legacy of an important and charismatic figure who played a pivotal role during the first phase of global environmental diplomacy.
Tolba concentrates on the context in which governments conclude that particular issues are ripe for binding international cooperation and on the factors that influence them during negotiations—such as science, the media, nongovernmental organizations, politicians, business and industry, and the public. The areas he discusses include the evolution of environmental law, environmental soft laws (principles and guidelines rather than treaties), binding regional regimes such as the Regional Seas Program and the Shared Freshwater Resources Program, the ozone layer, global warming, hazardous wastes, the loss of biological diversity, and ways to make international agreements work.