The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also called the Earth Summit, took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 1992. This largest-ever world meeting brought Heads of State and government officials together with international organizations and representatives of non-government organizations (NGOs) from around the world.

A 700 page global plan of action called Agenda 21 was produced as a result of the Earth Summit: it represents the consensus reached by 178 States on how we can secure OUR future. Agenda 21 is like a blueprint (or maybe we should call it a "greenprint"!) for global partnership aiming at a high quality environment and a healthy economy for all peoples of the planet.

Agenda 21 addresses the critical issues we face as a global community: continuing damage to ecosystems, the worsening of poverty, hunger and ill health, increasing world population and illiteracy. Agenda 21 is composed of 40 chapters that identify each challenge and propose simple realistic solutions towards sustainable development which is: meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Around the world, governments, businesses, non-governmental and other organizations are already putting the ideas from Agenda 21 to work. It is crucial to maintain the momentum of the Rio process and implement the agreements that were reached. This task will require not only the leadership and funding of governments and business, but also the vision, cooperation and work of every citizen. Sustainable development cannot
be achieved without all sectors of society working together.

This section focuses on the importance of international cooperation to implement and speed up our progress toward sustainable development. It stresses the necessity for the governments of each individual developed and developing country to implement new policies, laws and strategies aimed at socially responsible development. However, governments cannot do it alone, they will need to work with the private sector, non-governmental organizations and individuals.

Chapter 1
Preamble to Agenda 21:
No nation can secure its future alone, but all countries can assure themselves of a safer, more prosperous future by dealing with environment and development issues TOGETHER in global partnership.

Chapter 2
The Role of TRADE:
Trade and environment should be mutually supportive since international economic relations and the economic policies of every country have great relevance to sustainable development.

Chapter 3
Combatting POVERTY:
Poverty is caused by hunger, illiteracy, inadequate medical care, unemployment and population pressures. The poor need access to basic education and health care, safe water and sanitation, and to resources, especially land.

Chapter 4
New concepts of wealth and prosperity which are more in harmony with the Earth's carrying capacity need to be developed, particularly in the industrialized countries. Individuals need to accept that they have choices when making decisions about their own consumption patterns.

Chapter 5
The world's population is expected to exceed 8 billion by the year 2020. Countries need to know their national population carrying capacity and deal with the combination of population growth, health of the ecosystem, technologies and access to resources.

Chapter 6
Protecting and Promoting HEALTH:
Every year in the developing world, nearly 15 million children under 15 die from infection and malnutrition. Human health depends on a healthy environment, clean water supply, sanitary waste disposal, adequate shelter and healthy food. The overall goal is health for all by the year 2000.

Chapter 7
Sustainable Human settlements:
By the year 2000, half the world's population will be living in cities. Governments should reduce migration to the big cities by improving rural living and see that the homeless get access to land, credit and low-cost building materials.

Chapter 8
MAKING DECISIONS for Sustainable Development:
There is a tendency to treat the environment as a "free good" and to pass the cost of environmental damage to other parts of society, other countries or future generations. Nations and corporate enterprises should integrate environmental protection and restoration costs in their decision-making.

Chapter 9
Protecting the ATMOSPHERE:
Our atmosphere is under increasing pressure from greenhouse gases that threaten to change the climates and chemicals that reduce the ozone layer. Greater energy efficiency out of existing power stations is needed as well as developing new,
renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro, ocean and human power, while reducing reliance on non-renewable sources of energy such as fossil fuels.

Chapter 10
Planning and Management of LAND-USE:
Increasing demand for land and its natural resources is creating competition and conflicts. Sustainable use and management of land should include landscape ecological planning, traditional and indigenous land practices and the active participation in decision-making by people affected by land planning.

Chapter 11
There is a need for concerted international research and conservation efforts to control the harvesting of forests by promoting indigenous technologies and agroforestry and expanding the shrunken world-forest cover.

Chapter 12
Desertification and drought result in poverty and starvation, which brings about more soil degradation. One of the major tools to fight the spread of deserts is the planting of trees and other plants that retain water and maintain soil quality.

Chapter 13
MOUNTAIN Development:
About 10% of the Earth's population live in mountain areas, while about 40% occupies watershed areas below. Measures are needed to protect mountain ecosystems from erosion, landslides and the rapid loss of habitat, animals and plant life.

Chapter 14
AGRICULTURE and Rural Development:
The world's long-term ability to meet the growing demand for food and other agricultural products is uncertain. The priority must be to maintain and improve the capacity of agricultural lands with new technologies to support an expanding population.

Chapter 15
Conservation of BIODIVERSITY:
The use of biological resources to feed and clothe us, to provide us with housing and medicines accelerates the loss of bio-diversity. Urgent and decisive action is
needed to conserve and maintain genes, species and ecosystems.

Chapter 16
The success of biotechnology programs depends on highly trained scientific professionals who use traditional knowledge and modern technology to change the genetic material in plants, animals and microbes and create new products such as vaccines, increase soil fertility and crop resistance, improve treatment of sewage, etc.

Chapter 17
Protection of the OCEANS:
Oceans are under increasing stress from pollution, over-fishing and general degradation. Nations must control and reduce the pollution of the marine environment and maintain its
life support capacity.

Chapter 18
Protecting and Managing WATER:
In the developing world, one person in three lacks safe drinking water and sanitation ­p; basic requirements for health and dignity. A cleanup of the most obvious sources of pollution is needed in order to have safe water and sanitation for all by the year 2025.

Chapter 19
Management of TOXIC CHEMICALS:
There are presently no less than 100,000 commercial man-made chemicals. Countries need to develop and share expertise for a sound management of toxic chemicals and prevent illegal international traffic in toxic and dangerous products.

Chapter 20
Developing countries have come under pressure to accept unpleasant imports of hazardous waste which pose a risk to people and the environment. Developed countries have an obligation to promote the transfer of sound technologies and reduce hazardous waste.

Chapter 21
Growing quantities of garbage and sewage from our cities pose threats to our health and environment. An urban waste prevention approach needs to be implemented so that by 2010, all countries should have national plans for waste management.

Chapter 22
The use of radioactive substances is growing in nuclear power production of electricity, medicine, research and industry and so is the waste. It is important to ensure training and financial support to developing countries that have nuclear programs to ensure safe and responsible management.

Chapter 23
Sustainable development is primarily the responsibility of every government, but the commitment and involvement of all social groups is critical to the effective implementation of the objectives, policies and mechanisms agreed to by all governments at the Earth's Summit.

Chapter 24
Governments are urged to give girls equal access to education, to make health-care systems responsive to women's needs and to bring women into full participation in social, cultural and public life.

Chapter 25
Children and youth make up nearly one-third of the world population. Governments are urged to combat abuse of the rights of youth, especially females in certain cultures, and to ensure that all children have access to education.

Chapter 26
Indigenous people comprise about 4% of the world's population and their numbers are decreasing. Governments and international organizations should protect their rights and patrimony, recognize their traditional knowledge and resource management practices and enroll them in full global partnership.

Chapter 27
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) form a network in both developed and developing countries and play a vital role in the shaping and implementation of participatory democracy which is integral to the implementation of sustainable development.

Chapter 28
Local authorities, such as municipal governments, should consult citizens and community, business and industrial groups on local programs, policies, laws and regulations to achieve Agenda 21's objectives.

Chapter 29
Workers will be among those most affected by the changes needed to achieve sustainable development. Through elected representatives, workers must be involved in promoting socially responsible economic development.

Chapter 30
Responsible behavior in the private sector is a prerequisite to achieving sustainable development. Entrepreneurship can play a major role in improving the efficiency of resource use, minimizing wastes and protecting human health and environmental quality.

Chapter 31
Scientists and technologists (engineers, architects, industrial designers, urban planners, and other professionals) have special responsibilities to search for knowledge and to help protect the biosphere.

Chapter 32
Farmers are directly responsible for one third of the land surface of the Earth. They require economic and technical assistance that will encourage them to implement self-sufficient, low-input and low-energy agricultural practices. Women, who do much of the world's farming, should have access to tenure and the use of land, to credits and technologies.

Chapter 33
Developing nations need free trade and access to markets in order to achieve sustainable economic growth. Special attention should be given to nations whose economies are in transition.

Chapter 34
Transfer of TECHNOLOGY:
Scientific knowledge can help prevent shortages of energy, water and non-renewable resources. Developing countries should access environmentally-sound technology and know-how through a collaborative international network of laboratories.

Chapter 35
SCIENCE for Sustainable Development:
In the face of threats of irreversible environmental damage, improved knowledge of the Earth's systems is crucial as well as the integration of the natural, social and engineering sciences.

Chapter 36
Education gives people the environmental and ethical awareness, values and attitudes, skills and behaviour needed for sustainable development. Because
sustainable development must ultimately involve everyone, access to education must be increased for all children and adult illiteracy must be reduced.

Chapter 37
All countries share the need to strengthen national capabilities. Developing countries especially need to build their own capacity to implement Agenda 21 in cooperation with UN organizations, developed countries and with each other.

Chapter 38
A large responsibility for following-up with Agenda 21 rests with the United Nations organizations. It is recommended that the UN create a high-level Commission on Sustainable Develop-ment which would draw on expertise of UN organizations, international financial organizations and NGOs, industry, business and scientific groups.

Chapter 39
It is essential that all countries and all sectors within countries, participate in the negotiation of international agreements that create effective international standards for environmental protection.

Chapter 40
In order to base decisions on sound information, the availability, quality and accessibility of data needs to be improved between developed and developing countries.