Declaration on Sustainable Development
our origins to the future
We, the representatives of the peoples of the world, assembled at
the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South
Africa, from 2 to 4 September 2002, reaffirm our commitment to
We commit ourselves to building a humane, equitable and caring
global society, cognizant of the need for human dignity for all.
At the beginning of this Summit, the children of the world spoke
to us in a simple yet clear voice that the future belongs to them, and
accordingly challenged all of us to ensure that through our actions they
will inherit a world free of the indignity and indecency occasioned by
poverty, environmental degradation and patterns of unsustainable
As part of our response to these children, who represent our
collective future, all of us, coming from every corner of the world,
informed by different life experiences, are united and moved by a deeply
felt sense that we urgently need to create a new and brighter world of
Accordingly, we assume a collective responsibility to advance and
strengthen the interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars of
sustainable development — economic development, social development and
environmental protection — at the local, national, regional and global
From this continent, the cradle of humanity, we declare, through
the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable
Development and the present Declaration, our responsibility to one
another, to the greater community of life and to our children.
Recognizing that humankind is at a crossroads, we have united in
a common resolve to make a determined effort to respond positively to
the need to produce a practical and visible plan to bring about poverty
eradication and human development.
From Stockholm to Rio de Janeiro to Johannesburg
Thirty years ago, in Stockholm, we agreed on the urgent need to
respond to the problem of environmental deterioration.
Ten years ago, at the United Nations Conference on Environment and
Development, held in Rio de Janeiro,
we agreed that the protection of the environment and social and economic
development are fundamental to sustainable development, based on the Rio
Principles. To achieve such development, we adopted the global programme
entitled Agenda 21
and the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development,3 to
which we reaffirm our commitment. The Rio Conference was a significant
milestone that set a new agenda for sustainable development.
Between Rio and Johannesburg, the world’s nations have met in
several major conferences under the auspices of the United Nations,
including the International Conference on Financing for Development,
as well as the Doha Ministerial Conference.
These conferences defined for the world a comprehensive vision for the
future of humanity.
At the Johannesburg Summit, we have achieved much in bringing
together a rich tapestry of peoples and views in a constructive search
for a common path towards a world that respects and implements the
vision of sustainable development. The Johannesburg Summit has also
confirmed that significant progress has been made towards achieving a
global consensus and partnership among all the people of our planet.
The challenges we face
We recognize that poverty eradication, changing consumption and
production patterns and protecting and managing the natural resource
base for economic and social development are overarching objectives of
and essential requirements for sustainable development.
The deep fault line that divides human society between the rich
and the poor and the ever-increasing gap between the developed and
developing worlds pose a major threat to global prosperity, security and
The global environment continues to suffer. Loss of biodiversity
continues, fish stocks continue to be depleted, desertification claims
more and more fertile land, the adverse effects of climate change are
already evident, natural disasters are more frequent and more
devastating, and developing countries more vulnerable, and air, water
and marine pollution continue to rob millions of a decent life.
Globalization has added a new dimension to these challenges. The
rapid integration of markets, mobility of capital and significant
increases in investment flows around the world have opened new
challenges and opportunities for the pursuit of sustainable development.
But the benefits and costs of globalization are unevenly distributed,
with developing countries facing special difficulties in meeting this
We risk the entrenchment of these global disparities and unless
we act in a manner that fundamentally changes their lives the poor of
the world may lose confidence in their representatives and the
democratic systems to which we remain committed, seeing their
representatives as nothing more than sounding brass or tinkling cymbals.
Our commitment to sustainable development
We are determined to ensure that our rich diversity, which is our
collective strength, will be used for constructive partnership for
change and for the achievement of the common goal of sustainable
Recognizing the importance of building human solidarity, we
urge the promotion of dialogue and cooperation among the world’s
civilizations and peoples, irrespective of race, disabilities, religion,
language, culture or tradition.
We welcome the focus of the Johannesburg Summit on the
indivisibility of human dignity and are resolved, through decisions on
targets, timetables and partnerships, to speedily increase access to
such basic requirements as clean water, sanitation, adequate shelter,
energy, health care, food security and the protection of biodiversity.
At the same time, we will work together to help one another gain access
to financial resources, benefit from the opening of markets, ensure
capacity-building, use modern technology to bring about development and
make sure that there is technology transfer, human resource development,
education and training to banish underdevelopment forever.
We reaffirm our pledge to place particular focus on, and give
priority attention to, the fight against the worldwide conditions that
pose severe threats to the sustainable development of our people, which
include: chronic hunger; malnutrition; foreign occupation; armed
conflict; illicit drug problems; organized crime; corruption; natural
disasters; illicit arms trafficking; trafficking in persons; terrorism;
intolerance and incitement to racial, ethnic, religious and other
hatreds; xenophobia; and endemic, communicable and chronic diseases, in
particular HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
We are committed to ensuring that women’s empowerment,
emancipation and gender equality are integrated in all the activities
encompassed within Agenda 21, the Millennium development goals
and the Plan of Implementation of the Summit.
We recognize the reality that global society has the means and is
endowed with the resources to address the challenges of poverty
eradication and sustainable development confronting all humanity.
Together, we will take extra steps to ensure that these available
resources are used to the benefit of humanity.
In this regard, to contribute to the achievement of our
development goals and targets, we urge developed countries that have not
done so to make concrete efforts reach the internationally agreed levels
of official development assistance.
We welcome and support the emergence of stronger regional
groupings and alliances, such as the New Partnership for Africa’s
Development, to promote regional cooperation, improved international
cooperation and sustainable development.
We shall continue to pay special attention to the developmental
needs of small island developing States and the least developed
We reaffirm the vital role of the indigenous peoples in
We recognize that sustainable development requires a long-term
perspective and broad-based participation in policy formulation,
decision-making and implementation at all levels. As social partners, we
will continue to work for stable partnerships with all major groups,
respecting the independent, important roles of each of them.
We agree that in pursuit of its legitimate activities the private
sector, including both large and small companies, has a duty to
contribute to the evolution of equitable and sustainable communities and
We also agree to provide assistance to increase income-generating
employment opportunities, taking into account the Declaration on
Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work of the International Labour
We agree that there is a need for private sector corporations to
enforce corporate accountability, which should take place within a
transparent and stable regulatory environment.
We undertake to strengthen and improve governance at all levels
for the effective implementation of Agenda 21, the Millennium
development goals and the Plan of Implementation of the Summit.
Multilateralism is the future
To achieve our goals of sustainable development, we need more
effective, democratic and accountable international and multilateral
We reaffirm our commitment to the principles and purposes of the
Charter of the United Nations and international law, as well as to the
strengthening of multilateralism. We support the leadership role of the
United Nations as the most universal and representative organization in
the world, which is best placed to promote sustainable development.
We further commit ourselves to monitor progress at regular
intervals towards the achievement of our sustainable development goals
Making it happen!
We are in agreement that this must be an inclusive process,
involving all the major groups and Governments that participated in the
historic Johannesburg Summit.
We commit ourselves to act together, united by a common
determination to save our planet, promote human development and achieve
universal prosperity and peace.
We commit ourselves to the Plan of Implementation of the World
Summit on Sustainable Development and to expediting the achievement of
the time-bound, socio-economic and environmental targets contained
From the African continent, the cradle of humankind, we solemnly
pledge to the peoples of the world and the generations that will surely
inherit this Earth that we are determined to ensure that our collective
hope for sustainable development is realized.