Earth Summit

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The Earth Summit was a UN event

The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit, the Rio Summit, the Rio Conference, and the Earth Summit (Portuguese: ECO92), was a major United Nations conference held in Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June in 1992.

United Nations Intergovernmental organization

The United Nations (UN), is an intergovernmental organization responsible for maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations, achieving international cooperation, and being a center for harmonizing the actions of nations. It is the largest, most familiar, most internationally represented and most powerful intergovernmental organization in the world. The UN is headquartered on international territory in New York City; other main offices are in Geneva, Nairobi, Vienna and The Hague.

Rio de Janeiro Capital of state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, or simply Rio, is anchor to the Rio de Janeiro metropolitan area and the second-most populous municipality in Brazil and the sixth-most populous in the Americas. Rio de Janeiro is the capital of the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's third-most populous state. Part of the city has been designated as a World Heritage Site, named "Rio de Janeiro: Carioca Landscapes between the Mountain and the Sea", by UNESCO on 1 July 2012 as a Cultural Landscape.


Earth Summit was created as a response for Member States to cooperate together internationally on development issues after the Cold War. Due to issues relating to sustainability being too big for individual member states to handle, Earth Summit was held as a platform for other Member States to collaborate. Since the creation, many others in the field of sustainability show a similar development to the issues discussed in these conferences, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs). [1]

Cold War Geopolitical tension after World War II between the Eastern and Western Bloc

The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union with its satellite states, and the United States with its allies after World War II. The historiography of the conflict began between 1946 and 1947. The Cold War began to de-escalate after the Revolutions of 1989. The collapse of the USSR in 1991 was the end of the Cold War. The term "cold" is used because there was no large-scale fighting directly between the two sides, but they each supported major regional conflicts known as proxy wars. The conflict split the temporary wartime alliance against Nazi Germany and its allies, leaving the USSR and the US as two superpowers with profound economic and political differences.

Sustainability process of maintaining change in a balanced fashion

Sustainability is the ability to exist constantly. In the 21st century, it refers generally to the capacity for the biosphere and human civilization to coexist. It is also defined as the process of people maintaining change in a homeostasis balanced environment, in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development and institutional change are all in harmony and enhance both current and future potential to meet human needs and aspirations. For many in the field, sustainability is defined through the following interconnected domains or pillars: environment, economic and social, which according to Fritjof Capra is based on the principles of Systems Thinking. Sub-domains of sustainable development have been considered also: cultural, technological and political. According to Our Common Future, Sustainable development is defined as development that "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Sustainable development may be the organizing principle of sustainability, yet others may view the two terms as paradoxical.

In 2012, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development was also held in Rio, and is also commonly called Rio+20 or Rio Earth Summit 2012. It was held from 13 to 22 June.

United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development June 2012 UN conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), also known as Rio 2012, Rio+20, or Earth Summit 2012 was the third international conference on sustainable development aimed at reconciling the economic and environmental goals of the global community. Hosted by Brazil in Rio de Janeiro from 13 to 22 June 2012, Rio+20 was a 20-year follow-up to the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in the same city, and the 10th anniversary of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg.

The issues addressed included:

Tetraethyllead chemical compound

Tetraethyllead (commonly styled tetraethyl lead), abbreviated TEL, is an organolead compound with the formula (CH3CH2)4Pb.

Gasoline Transparent, petroleum-derived liquid that is used primarily as a fuel

Gasoline, or petrol, is a colorless petroleum-derived flammable liquid that is used primarily as a fuel in spark-ignited internal combustion engines. It consists mostly of organic compounds obtained by the fractional distillation of petroleum, enhanced with a variety of additives. On average, a 42-U.S.-gallon (160-liter) barrel of crude oil yields about 19 U.S. gallons of gasoline after processing in an oil refinery, though this varies based on the crude oil assay.

Fossil fuel fuel formed by natural processes such as anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms

A fossil fuel is a fuel formed by natural processes, such as anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms, containing energy originating in ancient photosynthesis. Such organisms and their resulting fossil fuels typically have an age of millions of years, and sometimes more than 650 million years. Fossil fuels contain high percentages of carbon and include petroleum, coal, and natural gas. Commonly used derivatives of fossil fuels include kerosene and propane. Fossil fuels range from volatile materials with low carbon-to-hydrogen ratios, to liquids, to nonvolatile materials composed of almost pure carbon, like anthracite coal. Methane can be found in hydrocarbon fields either alone, associated with oil, or in the form of methane clathrates.

An important achievement of the summit was an agreement on the Climate Change Convention which in turn led to the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement. Another agreement was to "not to carry out any activities on the lands of indigenous peoples that would cause environmental degradation or that would be culturally inappropriate".

Kyoto Protocol international treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

The Kyoto Protocol is an international treaty which extends the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that commits state parties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, based on the scientific consensus that (part one) global warming is occurring and (part two) it is extremely likely that human-made CO2 emissions have predominantly caused it. The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005. There are currently 192 parties (Canada withdrew from the protocol, effective December 2012) to the Protocol.

Paris Agreement International agreement with the goal of stopping the effects of global warming.

The Paris Agreement is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), dealing with greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance, signed in 2016. The agreement's language was negotiated by representatives of 196 state parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC in Le Bourget, near Paris, France, and adopted by consensus on 12 December 2015. As of November 2019, 195 UNFCCC members have signed the agreement, and 187 have become party to it.

Indigenous peoples Ethnic group descended from and identified with the original inhabitants of a given region

Indigenous peoples, also known as First peoples, Aboriginal peoples or Native peoples, are ethnic groups who are the original owners and caretakers of a given region, in contrast to groups that have settled, occupied or colonized the area more recently. Groups are usually described as indigenous when they maintain traditions or other aspects of an early culture that is associated with a given region. Not all indigenous peoples share this characteristic, as many have adopted substantial elements of a colonizing culture, such as dress, religion or language. Indigenous peoples may be settled in a given region (sedentary) or exhibit a nomadic lifestyle across a large territory, but they are generally historically associated with a specific territory on which they depend. Indigenous societies are found in every inhabited climate zone and continent of the world.

The Convention on Biological Diversity was opened for signature at the Earth Summit, and made a start towards redefinition of measures that did not inherently encourage destruction of natural ecoregions and so-called uneconomic growth.

Convention on Biological Diversity International treaty

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), known informally as the Biodiversity Convention, is a multilateral treaty. The Convention has three main goals including: the conservation of biological diversity ; the sustainable use of its components; and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources.

Ecoregion Ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than a bioregion

An ecoregion is an ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than a bioregion, which in turn is smaller than an ecozone. All three of these are either less or greater than an ecosystem. Ecoregions cover relatively large areas of land or water, and contain characteristic, geographically distinct assemblages of natural communities and species. The biodiversity of flora, fauna and ecosystems that characterise an ecoregion tends to be distinct from that of other ecoregions. In theory, biodiversity or conservation ecoregions are relatively large areas of land or water where the probability of encountering different species and communities at any given point remains relatively constant, within an acceptable range of variation.

Uneconomic growth

Uneconomic growth, in human development theory, welfare economics, and some forms of ecological economics, is economic growth that reflects or creates a decline in the quality of life. The concept is attributed to leading ecological economist and steady-state theorist Herman Daly, though other theorists can also be credited for the incipient idea. Note Uneconomic growth should not be confused with economic degrowth, the reduction of the size of the economy to increase well-being and sustainability.

Although President George H.W. Bush signed the Earth Summit’s Convention on Climate, his EPA Administrator William K. Reilly acknowledges that U.S. goals at the conference were difficult to negotiate and the agency’s international results were mixed, including the U.S. failure to sign the proposed Convention on Biological Diversity. [2]

Twelve cities were also honoured by the Local Government Honours Award for innovative local environmental programs. These included Sudbury in Canada for its ambitious program to rehabilitate environmental damage from the local mining industry, Austin in the United States for its green building strategy, and Kitakyūshū in Japan for incorporating an international education and training component into its municipal pollution control program.

The Earth Summit resulted in the following documents:

Moreover, important legally binding agreements (Rio Convention) were opened for signature:

In order to ensure compliance to the agreements at Rio (particularly the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and Agenda 21 ), delegates to the Earth Summit established the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). In 2013, the CSD was replaced by the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development that meets every year as part of the ECOSOC meetings, and every fourth year as part of the General Assembly meetings.

Critics point out that many of the agreements made in Rio have not been realized regarding such fundamental issues as fighting poverty and cleaning up the environment.

Green Cross International was founded to build upon the work of the Summit.

The first edition of Water Quality Assessments, published by WHO/Chapman & Hall, was launched at the Rio Global Forum.

See also

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The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa (UNCCD) is a Convention to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought through national action programs that incorporate long-term strategies supported by international cooperation and partnership arrangements.

United Nations Environment Programme Programme of the United Nations

The United Nations Environment Programme is a programme of the United Nations that coordinates the organization's environmental activities and assists developing countries in implementing environmentally sound policies and practices. It was founded by Maurice Strong, its first director, as a result of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in June 1972 and has overall responsibility for environmental problems among United Nations agencies; however, international talks on specialized issues, such as addressing climate change or combating desertification, are overseen by other UN organizations, like the Bonn-based Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. UNEP's activities cover a wide range of issues regarding the atmosphere, marine and terrestrial ecosystems, environmental governance and green economy. It has played a significant role in developing international environmental conventions, promoting environmental science and information and illustrating the way those can be implemented in conjunction with policy, working on the development and implementation of policy with national governments, regional institutions in conjunction with environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs). UNEP has also been active in funding and implementing environment related development projects.

The World Summit on Sustainable Development 2002, took place in South Africa, from 26 August to 4 September 2002. It was convened to discuss [sustainable development] organizations, 10 years after the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

Agenda 21 Decision Taken Rio Summit, 1992

Agenda 21 is a non-binding action plan of the United Nations with regard to sustainable development. It is a product of the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. It is an action agenda for the UN, other multilateral organizations, and individual governments around the world that can be executed at local, national, and global levels.

Rio Convention relates to the following three conventions, which are results of the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, often shortened to Rio Declaration, was a short document produced at the 1992 United Nations "Conference on Environment and Development" (UNCED), informally known as the Earth Summit. The Rio Declaration consisted of 27 principles intended to guide countries in future sustainable development. It was signed by over 170 countries.

The United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) was a body under the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) tasked with overseeing the outcomes of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development/Earth Summit. It was replaced in 2013 by the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, which meets both under the General Assembly every four years and the ECOSOC in other years.

Rosa Elena Simeón Negrín was the Minister of Science, Technology and the Environment in Cuba. Her role in government includes raising awareness of environmental issues amongst Cubans.

The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment was held in Stockholm, Sweden from June 5–16 in 1972.

United Nations Forum on Forests Intergovernmental policy forum

The United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) is a high-level intergovernmental policy forum. The forum includes all United Nations Member States and Permanent Observers, the UNFF Secretariat, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, Regional Organizations and Processes and Major Groups.

Felix Dodds British writer

Felix Dodds is an author, futurist and activist. Born as Michael Nicholas Dodds he took the name Felix Dodds when he was 18. He is standing in Mid Derbyshire for the Liberal Democrats in the next General Election. He has been instrumental in developing new modes of stakeholder engagement with the United Nations, particularly within the field of sustainable development. His latest book is Stakeholder Democracy: Represented Democracy in a Time of Fear. In 2019 he was the UK candidate to be the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme. Dodds was the Executive Director of Stakeholder Forum for a Sustainable Future from 1992–2012. He is probably best known as the author of How to Lobby at Intergovernmental Meetings: Mine is a Café Latte, written with co-author Michael Strauss.

Environmental governance is a concept in political ecology and environmental policy that advocates sustainability as the supreme consideration for managing all human activities—political, social and economic. Governance includes government, business and civil society, and emphasizes whole system management. To capture this diverse range of elements, environmental governance often employs alternative systems of governance, for example watershed-based management.

The environmental movement has made considerable progress from the first Greenpeace protest involving six people and a boat in 1971, to the environmental conferences of today involving the world’s leaders and commanding global attention. Environmental mega conferences differ from small environmental and sustainability conferences in fundamental ways. Rather than focusing on specific regional problems such as acid rain or ‘sectoral’ problems such as human health or food, they try to take a synoptic overview of the relationship between human society and the natural world. They aim to; “firstly address the overall trajectory of human development and its relationship with the environment as a whole and secondly take a broader view of the complex environment and development issues over a longer time frame, as each summit is preceded by a number of pre-conferences”.

This is a list of notable events relating to the environment in 1992. They relate to environmental law, conservation, environmentalism and environmental issues.

The Earth Negotiations Bulletin(ENB) is a periodic internet news publication covering negotiations, workshops and conferences on a variety of subjects in environmental policy and international law. It is published daily in print and online forms, and with email, Facebook and Twitter feeds, during conferences of the parties to multilateral environmental agreements; and is a publication of the Reporting Services division of the International Institute for Sustainable Development. The publication and division are based in New York City.

International Institute for Sustainable Development

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is an independent think tank founded in 1990. The institute has offices in Winnipeg, Ottawa, New York City, and Geneva. It has over 100 staff and associates working in over 30 countries.

High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development core platform of the United Nations for monitoring and review of Agenda 2030.

The United Nations High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) is a subsidiary body of both the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Economic and Social Council responsible for the entire organization's policy on sustainable development. It adopts negotiated declarations, reviews commitment and the progress of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Forum replaced the Commission on Sustainable Development on the 24 September 2013 Meetings of the Forum are open to all Member States of the United Nations.

The Earth Summits are decennial meetings of world leaders, organized since 1972 with help of the United Nations, to help defining ways to stimulate sustainable development at the global level. The aim is to bring together the best individuals and organisations humanity can bring forward from all kind of categories of life, to identify and update what are humanity's most pressing challenges, to quantify them, identify solutions and develop a plan of action not to run into a wall. This plan of action is called Agenda 21 and implemented by many local governments under the name Local Agenda 21. The plan of action is designed as a TQM - Total Quality Manual, designed smartly and open enough, so that also organisations, companies and individuals can use it as a basis for their own plan of action and guidance not to miss out on important issue; it helps speed up understanding and identifying partners by e.g. using similar wordings and symbols. The 2000-2015 Millennium Development Goals and the 2015-2030 Global Goals are results from these Earth Summits. The first summit took place in Stockholm ([Sweden]) in 1972, the second in Nairobi (Kenya) in 1982, the third in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) in 1992 and the fourth in Johannesburg in 2002. Last Earth Summit, called Rio+20, also took place in Rio de Janeiro in 2012.


  1. "World Conferences Introduction". Archived from the original on 10 March 2018. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
  2. EPA Alumni Association: EPA Administrator William K. Reilly discusses his efforts at the Rio conference, including successes and failures. Reflections on US Environmental Policy: An Interview with William K. Reilly Video Archived 6 October 2016 at the Wayback Machine , Transcript Archived 6 October 2016 at the Wayback Machine (see pages 6,7).
  3. United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. "Rio Declaration on Environment and Development". Archived from the original on 2 April 2003. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
  4. United Nations Agenda 21 Archived 10 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  5. United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. "Agenda 21: Table of Bold textContents. Earth Summit, 1992". Archived from the original on 30 July 2014. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
  6. "CBD Home". Archived from the original on 23 February 2011. Retrieved 4 August 2014.