The Rio Earth Summit took place in
1992 with the aim of bringing about change in the way we used
the Earth’s natural resources. It was clear that pollution
and the destruction of the natural world would have severe
implications for future generations if man did not take stock
of the situation and stop taking from the Earth what could
not be replaced.
Rather than continue on this path of self-destruction, Governments
agreed that policies in the future would have to take into
account any environmental impacts. This has lead to some positive
initiatives and a greater awareness and concern about environmental
issues and sustainability.
Three major agreements aimed at changing traditional approaches
to development were adopted in Rio. These agreements were:
Agenda 21, which addressed the problems of sustainable development
on a worldwide scale,
The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, which
was a series of principles outlining the rights and responsibilities
of different States, The Statement of Forest Principles, which
aimed to ensure the sustainable management of forests worldwide.
In addition to these three agreements, and addressing the
problems of climate change and biodiversity loss, two legally-binding
Conventions were opened for signature. These two Conventions
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,
The Convention on Biological Diversity
This Convention led to the Kyoto Treaty being drawn up in
Japan in 1997 legally binding industrialised nations to reduce
worldwide emissions of greenhouse gases by an average of 5.2%
below their 1990 levels over the next ten years.
After the US pulled out of the Treaty in 2001, it looked
as though the treaty would be left in ruins. However, a compromise
was reached within four months with nearly 180 nations opting
for a scaled-down version of the Treaty.