- The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the ‘Earth Summit’, was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 3-14 June 1992.
- This global conference, held on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the first Human Environment Conference in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1972, brought together political leaders, diplomats, scientists, representatives of the media and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from 179 countries for a massive effort to focus on the impact of human socio-economic activities on the environment.
- The Rio de Janeiro conference highlighted how different social, economic and environmental factors are interdependent and evolve together, and how success in one sector requires action in other sectors to be sustained over time. The primary objective of the Rio ‘Earth Summit’ was to produce a broad agenda and a new blueprint for international action on environmental and development issues that would help guide international cooperation and development policy in the twenty-first century.
- The ‘Earth Summit’ concluded that the concept of sustainable development was an attainable goal for all the people of the world, regardless of whether they were at the local, national, regional or international level.
- It also recognized that integrating and balancing economic, social and environmental concerns in meeting our needs is vital for sustaining human life on the planet and that such an integrated approach is possible.
- One of the major results of the UNCED Conference was Agenda 21, a daring program of action calling for new strategies to invest in the future to achieve overall sustainable development in the 21st century. Its recommendations ranged from new methods of education to new ways of preserving natural resources and new ways of participating in a sustainable economy.
- Agenda 21 is a product of the Earth Summit organized by UN that took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992 to include stakeholders in a non-binding action plan for achieving sustainable development.
- The stakeholders included local and national governments, businesses, international organizations, citizen groups and non-governmental organizations. The international community met again ten years later at the World Summit on Sustainable Development and reviewed developments to forge global partnerships for the implementation of Agenda 21 (World Bank, undated).
- India is a signatory to Agenda 21 and has sought to align various parts of its development infrastructure such as energy, transport, industry, water facilities, climate change policy, forests, biodiversity, ecosystems, marine and coastal management, land policy, agriculture, urban governance and human resource development.
- The ‘Earth Summit’ had many great achievements:
- The Rio Declaration and its 27 universal principles
- The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
- The Convention on Biological Diversity and the Declaration on the principles of forest management
- The ‘Earth Summit’ also led to the creation of the Commission on Sustainable Development
- The holding of first world conference on the sustainable development of small island developing States in 1994
- Negotiations for the establishment of the agreement on straddling stocks and highly migratory fish stocks.
- Rio+20 – the short name for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 2012. The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) was organized in pursuance of General Assembly Resolution, and took place in Brazil on 20-22 June 2012 to mark the 20th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), in Rio de Janeiro, and the 10th anniversary of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg.
- The preparations for Rio+20 highlighted seven areas which needed priority attention; these included decent jobs, energy, sustainable cities, food security and sustainable agriculture, water, oceans and disaster readiness.