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OUTCOMES OF THE RIO EARTH SUMMIT 1992 PROCESS

Generally, Rio 1992 gave a good impulse to the further development of international environmental law. Six conventions came out of Rio 1992 some of which have been converted into the next and more decisive phase, namely protocols, from which point they would become ratified in their respective countries

The results:

The Rio Declaration - a set of 27 principles designed to commit government to ensure environmental protection and responsible development and intended to be an Environmental Bill of Rights. It established the "Precautionary principle " and the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities".

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including the Kyoto Protocol from 1997 -- an international agreement aimed at the stabilisation of atmospheric concentrations of global greenhouse gases to prevent dangerous climate change as a result of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Its Kyoto Protocol is planned to be ratified before WSSD.

The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, including the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety -- an international agreement to conserve biological species, genetic resources, habitats and ecosystems; to ensure the sustainable use of biological materials; and to provide for the fair and equitable sharing of benefits derived from genetic resources. Here as above, the goal has been set for ratification of the Protocol before WSSD.

The Rio Forestry Principles - Fifteen non-binding principles for the protection and sustainable use of global forest resources. These principles have often been regarded as a foundation for a process to negotiate and agree an International Forestry Convention (so far without success).

The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification - to combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought in countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification. The convention was actually not a direct result of UNCED but added after the conference. To date this convention has been ineffective for lack of a financing mechanism. A revitalisation could take place by expanding the thematic coverage of the Global Environmental Facility (GEF)

Agenda 21 - undoubtedly the most important and complete document that came out of the Earth Summit. It has become the blueprint for sustainability and forms the basis for sustainable development strategies. Its recommendations range from news ways to educate, to new ways to care for natural resources and new ways to participate in shaping a sustainable economy. The overall objective of Agenda 21 was very ambitious for it was nothing less than designing a safe and just world with people in the South and North alike would live an equitable life within Earth's capacities.

The institutional result of the UNCED was the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). Agenda 21 called for the creation of the CSD to ensure effective follow-up of UNCED and further the process of constituting sustainable development. CSD was also meant to be the international body to monitor the implementation of Agenda 21. In addition, many countries, set up sustainable development commissions and to develop national strategies for sustainable development.

Also in the wake of the Rio Earth summit process were

+ The Convention on Persistant Organic Pollutants (POPs) )which was signed by Germany and the USA on May 23, 2001; the POPs convention takes the lead on the ban of at least 8 of these dangerous organic substances including the insecticide DDT. The implementation of this ban in southern countries is faltering due to lack of financial means. + [ see WWF campaign page ]

+ The Convention on Straddling and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks

+ The Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade + [ see WWF campaign page ]

The attempt to create a Convention for the Protection of Forests failed. Many ideas, among others a Convention on an International Environmental Liability Law were not seriously discussed. For discussion it would be well worth it to draw up a series of national minimal environment liability regulations in order to prevent a "liability dumping". This would have to include an obligation for international cooperation in the case of violation by the Parties. Furthermore, there is the need to clarify liability when it comes to transboundary activities and claims.

Also in the wake of Rio 1992, and apart from the above-mentioned conventions, a so-called "soft law" was established. Examples for this are the guidelines of the World Commission on Dams and the World Bank and OECD guidelines of foreign investments and lending. However, these guidelines are non-binding and clearly show the limits of this new approach.



 

L I N K S

NGO treaties and conventions from the 92 Global Forum ]


R E S O U R C E S


UNED's Rio Conventions Briefing Paper -- pdf ]

Effects of Globalisation on Sustainable Development after UNCED - an Analysis of the UNCED Process; by Martin Khor, Director of Third World Network ]

Who to Blame 10 Years after Rio? How the US, Canada and others undermine the Rio commitments; Greenpeace briefing -- pdf ]

United Nations Web Site on Sustainable Development ]



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L A S T  U P D A T E D   9-jul-03