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The Rio Earth Summit

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 were:

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and
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.

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