The turning point

Finally, in 1967, as concern over the state of the environment mounted, the government responded. It founded the Swedish Environment Protection Agency, the first of its kind in the world, by merging various smaller authorities responsible for water, air quality, conservation and other areas. 

Two years later, in 1969, Sweden became the first county in the world to introduce an Environmental Protection Act. From now on, companies would be held responsible for their emissions and environmental footprint. The Act was undoubtedly the most important of the tools available to central and local government to drive environmental improvements. 

The first UN conference on the Human Environment was held in Stockholm 1972. The conference was opened and addressed by the Swedish Prime Minister OlofPalme and UN secretary-general Kurt Waldheim to discuss the state of the global environment. Attended by the representatives of 113 countries, 19 inter-governmental agencies, and more than 400 inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, it is widely recognized as the beginning of modern political and public awareness of global environmental problems.

The legislation and political action did not take long to produce results. Take the use of DDT. This chemical had been building up in the environment for decades before the signs of its damaging effects became clear. In 1970 Sweden became one of the first countries in the world to prohibit use of pesticides containing DDT. Slowly DDT started to disappear from the flora and fauna and the affected animals recovered.