The world owes Sweden a big debt of gratitude. It was the first country to convince the United Nations of the importance of the environment. In 1972, the UN held its first conference on the environment in Stockholm. The Anti-Pollution Unit in the Prime Minister's office in Singapore was upgraded to a new Ministry of the Environment because of the conference in Stockholm.
In 1990, the UN decided to convene a second conference on the environment in 1992, 20 years after Stockholm. Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil, would be the venue for the conference. Unlike Stockholm, the second conference, popularly known as the Earth Summit, would have a double focus: environment and development.