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United Nations Conference on Environment and Development – Rio Earth Summit 1992

The 20th anniversary of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment took place in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro. The UN Conference on Environment and Development, the "Earth Summit", agreed to Agenda 21 and the Rio Declaration

These documents outlined key policies for achieving sustainable development that meets the needs of the poor and recognises the limits of development to meet global needs. "Needs" were therefore interpreted not solely in terms of economic interests but also as the prerequisites for a fully functional, harmonious, global system that incorporates both people and ecosystems.

The Summit brought environment and development issues firmly into the public arena. Along with the Rio Declaration and Agenda 21 it led to agreement on two legally binding conventions: the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)  and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It also produced a Statement of Forest Principles.

The Earth Summit gave rise to a number of positive responses including the emergence of thousands of Local Agenda 21 initiatives and an enhanced political profile for sustainable development issues on a national level. It led to the formation of the annual UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) to monitor and follow up on the implementation and developments of Agenda 21. Many countries also set up their own sustainable development commissions and created national strategies for sustainable development.

As well as producing key government documents a range of Civil Society documents and treaties were also produced.