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OVERVIEW OF THE EARTH SUMMIT’S
AGENDA FOR CHANGE



Extracts and synopsis prepared by the Bahá'í Information Office from the plain language version of Agenda 21 published by the Centre for Our Common Future, written by Michael Keating.

The full version is available from

The Centre for Our Common Future 52, Rue des Paquis 1201 Geneva Switzerland Tel: 4122-732 7117 Fax: 4122-738 5046

The full text of Agenda 21 is available as

Agenda 21: The United Nations Programme of Action from Rio From:- UN Publications, Sales Section, Room DC2-0853, United Nations, New York, NY 10017, USA. Also available is The Global Partnership for Environment and Development: A Guide to Agenda 21.

Please note: The phrase "developing countries" is used throughout the Rio documents.

AGENDA 21

AGENDA 21 is one of 5 documents agreed during the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992. Signed by 179 Heads of Government, it is a blueprint for sustainable development in the 21st century, aimed at providing a high quality environment and healthy economy for all the peoples of the world

Commentators point to two major features of this agreement:

  1. No longer can social, economic and environmental development be seen as separate issues, their interdependence has become clearly established.
  2. It was formulated in negotiations involving an unprecedented number of people and range of organisations, an intensification of the process of global democratization seen as essential for the 21st century.

Agenda 21 is a guide for individuals, businesses and governments in making choices for less environmentally destructive developments, and ultimately a challenge to translate understanding into action in developing sustainable lifestyles. The alternative to this action is unacceptable levels of human suffering and environmental damage, as forecast in the 1987 Brundtland Report, "Our Common Future".

Agenda 21 sees sustainable development as a way to reverse both poverty and environmental degradation. A major theme is to eradicate poverty by giving poor people more access to the resources they need to live sustainably, including information and skills. It calls upon governments working in participation with international organisations, business, regional and local governments and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and citizens groups to develop national strategies for sustainable development in an on going process of consultation and global democratization from local to international levels from 1993/4 - 1997

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GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP AND PARTICIPATION

Agenda 21 states that only a global partnership will ensure that all nations will have a safer and more prosperous future. The agreement includes the following ideas:

  • People are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.
  • Eradicating poverty and reducing disparities in living standards in different parts of the world are essential to achieve sustainable development and meet the needs of the majority of people.
  • Nations shall co-operate to conserve, protect and restore the health and integrity of the earth's ecosystem.
  • Environmental issues are best handled with the participation of all concerned citizens. Nations shall facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making environmental information widely available.
  • The full participation of women is essential to achieve sustainable development. The creativity, ideals and courage of youth and the knowledge of indigenous people are needed too. Nations should recognize and support the identity, culture and interests of indigenous people.
  • Peace, development and environmental protection are interdependent and indivisible.

AGENDA 21 - COMMITMENTS

Agenda 21 consists of 40 chapters in four sections of overlapping and interrelated issues involved in sustainable development.

  1. Preamble

SECTION ONE: SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC DIMENSIONS

  1. International Co-operation
  2. Combating Poverty
  3. Changing Consumption Patterns
  4. Population and Sustainability
  5. Protecting and Promoting Human Health
  6. Sustainable Human Settlements
  7. Making Decisions for Sustainable Development

SECTION TWO: CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT OF RESOURCES

  1. Protecting the Atmosphere
  2. Managing Land Sustainably
  3. Combating Deforestation
  4. Combating Desertification and Drought
  5. Sustainable Mountain Development
  6. Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development
  7. Conservation of Biological Diversity
  8. Management of Biotechnology
  9. Protecting and Managing Oceans
  10. Protecting and Managing Fresh Water
  11. Safer Use of Toxic Chemicals
  12. Managing Hazardous Wastes
  13. Managing Solid Wastes and Sewage
  14. Managing Radioactive Wastes

SECTION THREE: STRENGTHENING THE ROLE OF MAJOR GROUPS

  1. Preamble
  2. Women in Sustainable Development
  3. Children and Youth in Sustainable Development
  4. Strengthening the Role of Indigenous People
  5. Partnership with NGOs
  6. Local Authorities
  7. Workers and Trade Unions
  8. Business and Industry
  9. Scientists and Technologists
  10. Strengthening the Role of Farmers

SECTION FOUR: MEANS OF IMPLEMENTATION

  1. Financing Sustainable Development
  2. Technology Transfer
  3. Science for Sustainable Development
  4. Education, Training and Public Awareness
  5. Creating Capacity for Sustainable Development
  6. Organizing for Sustainable Development
  7. International Law
  8. Information for Decision Making

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