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UN Conference on Human Environment (Stockholm, 1972) was the first meeting to consider global
environment and development needs. The Conference led to the formation of the UN Environment
Programme (UNEP). The Stockholm Declaration and Action Plan, which were also produced, defined
principles for the preservation and enhancement of the natural environment, and highlighted the
need to support people in this process. The Conference indicated that "industrialised" environmental
problems, such as habitat degradation, toxicity and acid rain, were not necessarily relevant issues for
all countries. In particular, development strategies were not meeting the needs of the poorest
countries and communities.
In the 1980's the UN set up the World Commission on Environment and Development, also called the
Brundtland Commission. They produced "Our Common Future", otherwise known as the Brundtland
Report, which framed much of what would become the 40 chapters of Agenda 21 and the 27
principles of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development.
It defined sustainable development as development which;
"meets the needs of present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to
meet their own needs"
172 governments participated in the conference in Rio to address patterns of production with toxic
secondary products, alternative energy sources, changes to public transport to reduce smog and the
growing scarcity of water. Agenda 21, detailed below is the agenda proposed for the 21st century
that focuses on several key elements.
It took place in Johannesburg in South Africa with the nickname of Rio +10. The Johannesburg
Declaration was the main outcome and there was an agreement to try to restore the world's
depleted fisheries by 2015. It was a more general statement that agenda 21 but included an
agreement to focus on "the worldwide conditions that pose severe threats to the sustainable
development of our people, which include: chronic hunger; malnutrition; foreign occupation; armed
conflict; illicit drug problems; organized crime; corruption; natural disasters; illicit arms trafficking;
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malaria and tuberculosis."
The initial Kyoto agreement was started in 1997 in Japan. As of 2009 187 states have signed the
protocol. Under it 37 industrialised countries have agreed to try and cut down on the emissions of
green house gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxides. The goal of the countries is
to reduce the number of emissions by 5.2% of the 1990 levels.
Copenhagen known as cop15.…read more