International Conferences on Sustainable Development

The United Nations (UN) termEarth Summit at Rio in Brazil in June 1992, in particular, contributed to the dissemination of the concept at all levels of government throughout the world, with the Declaration of Rio officialising the UN's commitment to sustainable development and Agenda 21, which was a programme for its implementation. Besides the Rio declaration, the 1992 Earth Summit also contributed to the signature of other texts impacting on sustainable development such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) or the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Read the Rio Declaration by clicking on the link in the right-hand column:

  • How much space is given to environmental matters?
  • Can you see other important matters that emerge from these principles?

The Rio Conference was followed by other world conferences organised by the UN. In 1997 there was a UN General Assembly special session usually referred to as Rio +5 to review what the 1992 Earth Summit had brought. A second Earth Summit in 2002 in Johannesburg sought to implement the principles elaborated 10 years earlier in Rio. Some main outcomes of this second Earth Summit where:

  • A reaffirmation of the commitment to the principles of sustainable development and the formulation of eight termMillennium Development Goals to implement them (see lesson "Poverty" for more information on the Millennium Development Goals)
  • The launch of concrete partnerships between governments, civil society and the private sector in order to support governmental efforts in the implementation of sustainable development.

Take a look at some of the indicators of sustainable development as used by the UN:

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