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UN Documentation: Environment

Conferences and Reports on the Environment

UN activity in the field of environment has been driven by major conferences and reports. 

UN Conference on the Human Environment (1972)

  • Economic and Social Council resolution 1346 (XLV) of 30 July 1968 recommended the General Assembly consider convening a UN conference on problems of the human environment.
  • Conference convened by General Assembly resolution 2398 (XXIII) of 3 December 1968
  • Held in Stockholm, 5-16 June 1972
  • Led to the establishment of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
  • Outcome document: A/CONF.48/14/Rev.1 

World Commission on Environment and Development (1987)

  • Established by General Assembly resolution 38/161 of 19 December 1983
  • Prepared a report for General Assembly in 1987
    • Based on a four-year study
    • Transmitted by A/42/427
    • Entitled Our Common Future, also known as the Brundtland report
    • Developed the theme of sustainable development

United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (1992)

  • Convened by General Assembly resolution 44/228 of 20 December 1988
  • Held in Rio de Janeiro, 3-14 June 1992
  • Known at the time as the Earth Summit
  • Later came to be called the Rio Conference
  • Led to the establishment of the Commission on Sustainable Development
  • Outcome document in 3 volumes: A/CONF.151/26/Rev.1
    • Vol.I + Corr.1: Resolutions adopted by the Conference
    • Vol.II: Proceedings of the Conference
    • Vol.III + Corr.1: Statements made by Heads of State or Government at the summit segment of the Conference
  • Three major agreements adopted (found in Vol.I + Corr.1):
    • Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, a series of principles defining the rights and responsibilities of States
    • Agenda 21, a global plan of action to promote sustainable development
    • Statement of Forest Principles, a set of principles to underpin the sustainable management of forests worldwide
  • Two multilateral treaties were opened for signature:
    • United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
    • Convention on Biological Diversity
  • Called for several major initiatives in other key areas of sustainable development, such as, a global conference on Small Island Developing States; negotiations began for a Convention to Combat Desertification, and for an agreement on highly migratory and straddling fish stocks.

General Assembly Special Session on the Environment (1997)

  • Called for by General Assembly resolutions 47/190 and 51/181
  • Known as the Earth Summit +5
  • 19th special session of the General Assembly
  • Held in New York, 23-27 June 1997
  • Review of the implementation of Agenda 21
  • Outcome document: General Assembly resolution S-19/2 of 27 June 1997, Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21.

World Summit on Sustainable Development (2002)

  • Convened by General Assembly resolution 55/199 of 20 December 2000
  • Also known as Rio +10
  • Held in Johannesburg, 26 August - 4 September 2002
  • Reviewed progress in the implementation of Agenda 21 since its adoption in 1992
  • WSSD website still available
  • Outcome document: A/CONF.199/20 + Corr.1, includes:
    • Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development
    • Plan of Implementation

UN Conference on Sustainable Development (2012)

  • Called for by General Assembly resolution 66/197
  • Known as Rio+20
  • Held in Rio de Janeiro, 20-22 June 2012
  • Rio +20 website
  • Outcome document A/CONF.216/16, includes "The future we want"