Images of Environmental Action — UN at 75

UN Environment Programme
3 min readOct 20, 2020
Wangari Maathai (second from left), winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize, participates in a tree planting ceremony in the North Garden of UN Headquarters in May of 2005. UN Photo / Evan Schneider

UN Day on 24 October marks the anniversary of the entry into force in 1945 of the UN Charter. Over the last 75 years, our understanding of environmental issues has advanced and has been accompanied by increasing international efforts to protect the planet on which we depend. Explore some of the key environmental moments from the past several decades in the images below and be sure to visit our UN75 Timeline for a deeper journey.

UN Photo / Yutaka Nagata


In one of the earliest organizing documents of multilateral environmental action, the United Nations Secretary-General delivers a report, Activities of United Nations Organizations and Programmes Relevant to the Human Environment. The report lays the groundwork for the establishment of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as the world’s leading environmental authority.

Communication staff prepare branded posters, logos and signs to be used in connection with the First United Nations Conference on the Human Environment.


The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is established after the first United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm, Sweden 5–16 June 1972.

UN Photo / Miguel Gonzalez


In partnership with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and the World Wildlife Fund, UNEP publishes the World Conservation Strategy. This landmark document defines the concept of sustainable development and shapes the global sustainable development agenda.

UN Photo / Evan Schneider


The General Assembly convenes a Special Session focused on the environment. Known as Earth Summit +5, its aim is to accelerate the implementation of Agenda 21 and launch a new global partnership for sustainable development.

UNEP presents the first publication of the Global Environment Outlook. The series places a priority on reflecting regional perspectives and realities and reporting on the status of the global environment.

UN Photo / Mark Garten


Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visits the Polar ice rim to witness first-hand the impact of climate change on icebergs and glaciers. The visit was part of the UN Chief’s campaign urging Member States to “seal the deal” on a fair, balanced and effective agreement at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009.

UN Photo / Cia Pak


The United Nations Sustainable Development Summit leads to the adoption of 17 Sustainable Development Goals as part of a new global agenda on sustainable development, with several focusing the on environment, including life below water, life on land, climate action, clean water and sanitation, and affordable and clean energy.

UN Photo / Mark Garten


UN Secretary-General António Guterres visits the South Pacific to spotlight the issue of climate change ahead of the Climate Action Summit in New York. In addition to Tuvalu, the trip took him to New Zealand, Fiji and Vanuatu. In each country, the Secretary-General met with government leaders, civil society representatives and youth groups, to hear from those already impacted by climate change and who are also successfully engaging in meaningful climate action.

Want to learn more? Head to our UN75 Timeline.



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