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Past Conferences, Meetings and Events  >  The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Earth Summit)

United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Earth Summit)
(3-14 June 1992, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Heads of State and Government gather for a group photograph at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, as the media, delegates and staff members look on. Heads of State and Government gathered for a group photograph at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as the media, delegates and staff members looked on.    UN Photo/ Tom Prendergast

The history of sustainable development in the United Nations dates back to the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, held in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1972.

Twenty years later, at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the United Nations sought to help Governments rethink economic development and find ways to stop polluting the planet and depleting it's natural resources.

The two-week "Earth Summit" was the climax of a process that had begun in December 1989, of planning, education and negotiations among all Member States of the United Nations, leading to the adoption of Agenda 21, an official global consensus on development and environmental cooperation.

Basic to Agenda 21 was the acknowledgement that protecting the environment required collaboration across boundaries. Agenda 21 was meant to reflect an international consensus to support and supplement national strategies and plans for sustainable development. It calls for all States to participate in improving, protecting and better managing ecosystems, and taking common responsibility for the future. As stated in the preamble to Agenda 21, “No nation can achieve this on its own. Together we can—in a global partnership for sustainable development.”

The Earth Summit produced 27 principles—the ‘Rio Declaration’—on new and equitable partnerships and development through cooperation among States, social sectors and individuals. They reflect human beings’ responsibility for sustainable development; the right of States to use their own resources for their environmental and development policies; and the need for State cooperation in poverty eradication and environmental protection. The idea is that States must act in a spirit of global partnership to conserve, protect and restore the integrity of the Earth’s ecosystem


Related:

Agenda 21

Rio Declaration

Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (1972)
and Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (1992)