Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

James Siekmeier

Committee Co-Chair

Elizabeth Fones-Wolf

Committee Member

Joseph Hodge


This thesis examines the roles, ideologies, strategies, and behavior of American environmental nongovernmental organizations (ENGOs) during the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment. This conference was the first major international conference to address environmental issues. The Stockholm Conference was a meeting for delegates representing national governments to dictate the direction of international environmental regulation. The conference focused on the participation of nations but ENGOs found venues through which to participate in the discussion on the human environment. In this thesis, I argue that even though the official conference limited the participation of ENGOs, these groups functioned as informal diplomats in Stockholm. Furthermore, as the U.S. delegation opted to pursue more nationally-focused goals, American ENGOs promoted global-oriented objectives. Thus, the presence of these organizations complicates the narrative of the United States during the conference.;This thesis specifically focuses on three American organizations, the Sierra Club, the National Audubon Society, and the Friends of the Earth International. During the preparatory period of the conference and the conference itself, members of these groups acted as commentators, mediators, discussants, delegates, protestors, and environmental experts. Through their participation, they illuminate much about NGO diplomacy during the 1970s. American ENGOs were unable to influence policy on a major scale during the conference, but their ability to become visible on the international level during the conference established their relevancy as diplomatic agents. ENGO diplomacy, though it grew to full stature in the 1980s, planted its roots in the 1970s, during this conference. This thesis aims to show the impact these organizations had on the conference and how the meeting in Stockholm influenced American ENGOs.