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Making a model: the 1974 Nordic Environmental Protection Convention

Profile picture of Melina Antonia BunsMelina Antonia Buns, visiting postdoc in international and environmental history at the division, has published a new open access article in the Scandinavian Journal of History (published online on 05 May 2022). The title of the article is “Making a model: the 1974 Nordic Environmental Protection Convention and Nordic attempts to form environmental law” and adds to the current discourse of environmental governance, for example embodied by the recent Stockholm +50 UN-Conference on the human environment, which took place in Sweden’s capital in June.


This article investigates the 1974 Nordic Environmental Protection Convention. It shows that the ulterior motives for such a convention were Nordic ambitions to regulate and reduce transboundary pollution originating outside of the Nordic region. Emphasizing the inter-organizational dynamics between institutionalized Nordic cooperation and international organizations, it examines how the Nordics drew on developments within international organizations and how they pursued their agenda of shaping international environmental law within the OECD. Ultimately, the article argues that the Nordic countries tried to create a model convention to be exported to and implemented at the international level with the aim of reducing transboundary pollution and establishing transnational responsibilities and accountabilities. By setting out this argument and shedding light on the first legally binding international convention to address transboundary pollution with procedural principles, the article breaks new ground on the history of Nordic environmental cooperation as well as on the development of international environmental law.

If you are interested in Nordic environmental governance, check it out!

Working as a doctoral student in the Nuclearwaters-Project (ERC Consolidator Grant, PI Per Högselius), I focus on the nuclear history of Eastern Europe, especially on the territory of the former Soviet Union and its successor states. Furthermore, I investigate expert cultures in nuclear discourses, with a special interest in water-related issues in nuclear power plant decision-making. In addition, I am intrigued by the entanglement of the commercial, scientific and political interests concerning nuclear technologies, with its sometimes harsh consequences on human societies and the environment. Recently this interest has extended to energy systems as a whole in Eastern Europe, including fossil fuels and renewables. Questions of transition within international energy systems in the face of the climate crisis and recent political developments become more important, as my work progresses.