Global Policy Forum

The Rio Process and Its Follow-up


This page looks at the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED - also known as the Earth Summit) held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. At this conference, world leaders signed the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). They endorsed the Rio Declaration and the Statement of Forest Principles and adopted Agenda 21 , a plan for achieving sustainable development in the 21st century. A Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) was created in December 2002 to ensure effective follow-up of the UNCED. In 2002, a ten-year review was held at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg, South Africa.

UNCED Documents | Articles | The Johannesburg Summit

UNCED Documents

Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development

Rio Declaration

Framework Convention on Climate Change

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

Statement of Forest Principles

Agenda 21



Pricing Environmental Assets: Smart Idea, or Fatally Flawed? (June 26, 2012)

At the Rio+20 Conference, governments and businesses launched the Natural Capital Declaration which is a voluntary initiative to integrate “natural capital” into institutions’ financial decision-making. Various non-governmental organizations oppose the declaration’s monetization of the environment and its implication that the root causes of ecological crises are imperfect valuation of “natural capital and ecosystem services.” The declaration fails to acknowledge the role of industries in causing environmental degradation through the commodification of nature. A sustainable solution to the ecological crises would consist of reducing the role of markets and the financial sector in the natural environment and strengthening the democratic control over the world’s ecological commons. (GreenBiz)

Asia Sees Red Over 'Green Economy' (June 26, 2012)

The recent Rio+20 conference has exposed a gap between the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and some developing Asian countries such as China over the concept of “green economy.” ESCAP promotes “green economy” as a strategy to achieve sustainable development because the region’s economies are vulnerable to price hikes of resources, and a shift to resource efficient growth strategy would be beneficial. However, some activists fear that the increased corporate control of resources and the “green protectionism” in international trade may ignore the concerns in Asia. Larger Asian economies are likely to continue to object to the buzz word “green economy” if it is placed in the context of new internationally-binding prescription for sustainable development in the Global South. (Inter-Press Service)

Climate Change and Family Planning (May 31, 2012)

The least developed countries (LDCs) face a double challenge: mitigating climate change and combating poverty. The reproductive rights agenda is crucial to lowering birth rates, reducing poverty, empowering women, and protecting vulnerable populations from climate change. In the Rio+20 summit, LDCs should focus on reducing fertility rates to promote sustainable development.(Inter-Press Service)

To Save the Earth It Is Essential to Change Consumption Patterns (March 1, 2012)

Social Watch, an international network of citizens organizations aimed at eradicating poverty and fighting climate change, has released its annual report specifically looking at the upcoming Rio +20 summit on sustainable development. Social Watch urges governments to opt for a wider understanding of sustainable development, arguing that current consumption and production standards are unsustainable and a testimony to the disproportionate use industrialized countries make of the earth’s non-renewable resources. In order to counter this state of affairs, the world requires “a radical and urgent transformation in current approaches to economic growth and stability and to patterns of production and consumption.” (Social Watch)

Citizen Actions Turn Up for a Warming Planet (September 11, 2011)

The 2011 CIVICUS World Assembly draws attention to two major questions on which success at the Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio 2012 depends. First, its outcome will be largely determined by the willingness of North America and Europe to move away from their rigid focus on developing a “Green Economy.” The UN Group of 77 objects to the green-economy focus, arguing that “rhetoric has replaced real policies.” Instead, they advocate for a more holistic approach, whereby a green economy serves as a means to achieve poverty alleviation and sustainable development. Second, the speakers at the September 10-12 assembly maintain that the outcome of Rio+20 will depend entirely on the pressure coming from civil society.

Worldwide Toxic Chemicals Ban Agreed (August 30, 2002)

Delegations at tThe World Summit agree on banning the use and production of toxic chemicals, hazardous to human health and the environment, by 2020. The agreement, so far the only one, was reached after a U-turn by the US. (Times)

From Rio to Johannesburg: The Globalization Decade (July 24, 2002)

As part of its special coverage of the Johannesburg Earth Summit, Corpwatch is running three excerpts from the new book, The Corporate Takeover of Sustainable Development. The first excerpt outlines the decade leading up to the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

Another UN is Possible (June 13, 2002)

Activists and UN delegates worry that August's World Summit on Sustainable Development has been co-opted, under heavy US influence, by corporate interests. (Corpwatch)

Girona Declaration - From Rio to Johannesburg (March, 2002)

Activists at a strategy session discussed corporate influence in the sustainable-development debate. Corporations have devised means to appear socially and environmentally-responsible in order to evade global regulations. (Corporate Europe Observatory)

Less Talk, More Action for Rio+10 (December 4, 2001)

At a recent prepratory meeting for the Rio+10 Conference, the focus was on the need for increased cooperation and dialogue between the North and South. Connections between social and economic development policies and the environment were addressed. (Bangkok Post)

Towards Johannesburg (November 4, 2001)

The World Summit on Sustainable Development will take place in September 2002. During this summit, world leaders should promote policies that combine environmental concerns with poverty eradication. Measures must be taken to "protect the natural base of economic and social development."(UN Chronicle)

United Nations to Stage New Earth Summit in 2002 (May 9, 2000)

Despite admitting the need for another world summit on environment and development, the US refuses to fund any new global conferences as its general policy. But a US official underscores the financial contribution of the US to contribute $700,000 on the UN Forum on Forests.

"Towards the 1997 Special Review Session on Environment and Development"

Statement by German NGO leaders about the UN General Assembly Review of the Rio Environmental Accords. Issued in 1996, the statement later proved to be on the mark. It was highly critical and raised important questions about the role of NGOs.

Stephen Viederman: Multinational Corporations and Sustainable Development

The President of a major New York-based foundation makes an unusually strong statement about how "multinational corporations and sustainable development are incompatible." Statement made to the press during the Rio+5 special session of the General Assembly.

UN Special Session on the Environment - An Analysis

A brief, thoughtful and thorough summary of the UN General Assembly's Special Session on the Environment held five years after the Conference in Rio.

Rio+5 and the Global Ecological Crisis

A Speech by Martin Khor of Third World Network On Review of the Implementation of Agenda 21 June, 1997

Transportation & Sustainability at the Rio+5 Prep Comm

A statement by the NGO Transport Caucus in April 1997 that points out how completely governments have ignored the urgent issues of transportation reform. The statement sidesteps the issue of why but the reasons are obvious enough: oil, auto and other corporations oppose any change.

The Military and the Environment: An NGO Statement on Rio+5

Statement circulated at the April preparatory meeting for the Rio+5 conference, spotlighting the military as a major barrier to environmental progress.

Population Growth, Resource Consumption and a Sustainable World

Joint statement issued in 1992 prior to the UN's Rio Conference by the US National Academy of Science and Britain's Royal Society warning that "the future of our planet is in the balance." Offers a sobering picture of environmental damage and the need for rapid and far-reaching changes, with emphasis on population. See also the 1992 "Warning to Humanity" issued by the Union of Concerned Scientists and signed by over 1,500 scientists including 99 Nobel prize winners. A broader and more radical perspective than the NAS/RS statement, it warns that "human beings and the natural world are on a collision course."

NGO Alternative Treaties, Global Forum, Rio (June 1992)

Links to texts of the many alternative documents on the global environment developed by NGOs during the Earth Summit in Rio.

Rio+5: Rio Summit Results Fall Short

Short article on the disappointing results of the Earth Summit conference in Rio, as a five-year review nears.



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