DR Ambedkar IAS Academy

The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), ‘Earth Summit’

  • 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.
  • The United Nations Conference for Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro was the first large international conference focused on global environmental questions since the 1972 UN meeting in Stockholm.
  • 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.
  • The conference also recognized that integrating and balancing economic, social and environmental dimensions required new perceptions of the way we produce and consume, the way we live and work, and the way we make decisions. This concept was revolutionary for its time, and it sparked a lively debate within governments and between governments and their citizens on how to ensure sustainability for development.
  • 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.
  • 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 the first world conference on the sustainable development of small island developing States in 1994, and negotiations for the establishment of the agreement on straddling stocks and highly migratory fish stocks.

The issues addressed includes:

  • The systematic scrutiny of patterns of production particularly the production of toxic components, such as lead in gasoline or poisonous waste including radioactive chemicals.
  • Alternative sources of energy to replace the use of fossil fuels which are linked to global climate change.
  • The new reliance on the public transportation system in order to reduce vehicle emissions, congestion in cities and the health problem caused by polluted air and smog.
  • The growing scarcity of water

The Earth summit resulted in the following documents:

  • Rio Declaration on Environment and development
  • Agenda 21
  • Forest principles

Moreover, two important legally binding agreements

  1. Convention on Biological Diversity
  2. UN Framework Convention on Climate Change UNFCCC

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