Final Document of the


Organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Union
Brasilia (Brazil), 23-27 November 1992


1. The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) was the starting point for action to establish models of social co-existence, guided by the continuing need for peace, the ethical demands of human dignity and the need to care for the viability and productivity of the earth. The Inter-Parliamentary Conference pays tribute to the world's governments, including particularly the Government of Brazil, the host country, and to the UNCED Secretariat for the historic accomplishments of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development.

2. UNCED was attempting to do more than simply redirect sectors of economic activity or produce temporary solutions; rather, it was trying to redefine the notion of development - to establish it on a basis of rationality, solidarity and equity, as the way of guaranteeing the sustainability of adequate living conditions for all.

3. It achieved this and now, therefore, is the time to carry the process further, to produce a clear response to the huge responsibilities generated by the Conference for all countries alike. UNCED covered an extremely broad range of subjects; this Conference has therefore chosen to focus on those actions which reflected the major elements of the Yaoundé Declaration in which parliamentarians attending the 87th Inter-Parliamentary Conference expressed their views on the main directions of UNCED and its prospects (Annex).

4. The products of UNCED emerged without adequate direct contribution from parliaments. But as the results of UNCED are being implemented, action by parliaments is needed, not only as a statutory requirement but also to fill gaps and add the political and practical dimensions of action that parliamentarians are best able to define. Parliamentarians will find themselves involved in two broad categories of follow-up action:

  • First, to secure primarily national benefits, to take actions that will contribute to a cumulative global effect and to set useful examples;
  • Second, to ensure that the positions put forward and the programmes supported by governments foster sustainable development worldwide.

5. Parliamentarians convey or withhold the political legitimacy of social action. Because they are charged with this vital and over-riding responsibility they will be the first to be held accountable by present and future generations for success or failure in achieving sustainable development.

6. The purpose of this Conference was to assess the results of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in light of the views expressed in the Yaoundé Declaration; define priority areas for action - particularly at the parliamentary level; and propose mechanisms for follow-up and evaluation. At the end of the Conference, the participants adopted the "Brasilia Plan of Action", which appears below and which is followed by their views and recommendations concerning the results of UNCED.




7. The Conference urges parliaments and parliamentarians to ensure that the process which was initiated with UNCED is strengthened and furthered and, to this effect, recommends that they take the following actions at the national level:

(a) Ensure that States which so far have not yet signed the Convention on Biodiversity and the Framework Convention on Climate Change do so without further delay and as promptly as possible ratify these two instruments;

(b) Equally ensure that States ratify or accede to, as appropriate, other regional and global treaties which relate to the protection of the environment and sustainable development, in particular:

  • The Convention on the Law of the Sea
  • The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
  • The Vienna Convention for the protection of the ozone layer, the Montreal Protocol and the 1990 and subsequent amendments;

(c) Adopt enabling legislation as well as review and amend, as appropriate, existing legislation to ensure that it is compatible with the commitments contained in these instruments and agreed at UNCED and that it facilitates and does not hamper their implementation;

(d) Review and amend, as necessary, existing legislation in the light also of the recommendations contained in this Final Document;

(e) Review and revise, if necessary, national legislation, administrative structures and procedures such as environmental impact assessment in order to establish an effective, integrated decision making process and fiscal and economic policies conducive to sustainable development;

(f) Adopt legislative provisions which ensure the effective involvement of concerned individuals and organizations in the decision making process;

(g) Work towards the creation of national committees for the definition and promotion of integrated policies and plans of action in the field of environment and development - to be composed of representatives of concerned public institutions, parliament and, as necessary, non-governmental organizations, business and other interest groups.

(h) Work for further development of the Rio Declaration into a full-fledged "Earth Charter" for adoption by the UN General Assembly in 1995 at the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations.

8. To facilitate the accomplishment of these tasks and render more effective the follow-up action of Parliaments, including through their oversight function, the Conference furthermore recommends that parliaments:

(a) Review their committee structures with a view to ensuring an integrated treatment of all issues and questions which are relevant to environment and development;

(b) To this effect, also establish a parliamentary Committee on Environment and Development with the mandate of ensuring an integrated approach or review the mandate of existing parliamentary Committees dealing with the environment to ensure that they can effectively carry out this task;

(c) Invite the competent national authorities to submit periodic and comprehensive reports to Parliament on governmental policy and action - both taken and planned - to implement the results of UNCED;

(d) Take the necessary actions to empower women and others generally under-represented in the parliamentary process to participate fully in the review of legislation to implement sustainable development; and to ensure that the full participation of women is reflected in national legislation, administrative structures and processes, national committees and the preparation of reports.

9. Given the close link between peoples and their elected representatives, the Conference recommends that parliamentarians intensify their efforts to bring the issues of environment and development to the attention of the general public as well as special interest groups. In this context, the Conference recommends that extensive use be made of public hearings so that account can be also taken of the views and needs of local communities.

10. Financial and technical resources are indispensable to the implementation of Agenda 21 and the Conventions. The Conference recommends that parliamentarians commit themselves to use their influence, so that the necessary resources are re-allocated to national projects which give priority to sustainable development. In the developed countries, they should ensure the fulfillment of the international agreements reached at the Earth Summit with respect to the transfer of technical and financial resources needed to assist in the sustainable development of the whole planet.

11. The Conference recommends that parliaments and parliamentarians take the following steps at the international level:

(a) Exchange information on action taken to implement the results of UNCED at the national level, including on new or changed legislation;

(b) Where possible, establish a legal requirement that they be involved in formulating positions for international negotiations and meetings and that parliamentarians be included in national delegations;

(c) Encourage co-operation at the regional level between parliamentarians on policies and action for the promotion of sustainable development through regional parliamentary assemblies or institutions;

(d) Work for the harmonization of legislation which touches upon transboundary environmental issues between the countries concerned;

(e) Ensure that the government of their country extends all necessary co-operation to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development and provides information in the form of periodic communications or national reports regarding the activities undertaken to implement Agenda 21;

(f) Ensure that updated information is provided through competent bodies such as UNEP on the implementation of the Conventions on Climate Change and Biodiversity, and that parliaments are kept fully informed on progress towards forest and fisheries conventions.


12. The Conference recommends that National Groups of IPU bring this Final Document to the attention of their respective parliaments and their competent committees as well as to the relevant governmental institutions.

13. Moreover, the Conference urges members of the Union to give the greatest possible publicity to these results, notably by disseminating them to the media, social and special interest groups and concerned non-governmental organizations.

14. It also invites all National Groups to inform the IPU of steps taken by parliament and government in their respective country in pursuit of the recommendations of this Conference, as well as related developments, so that these can be brought to the attention of the Union's members.

15. The Conference also urges the IPU to take the following measures:

(a) Bring the Final Document to the attention of the United Nations as well as to all interested international and regional organizations including parliamentary assemblies and institutions;

(b) Consider organizing follow-up meetings, particularly at the regional level, for the purpose of exchanging information, evaluating progress and promoting strengthened policies and actions;

(c) Consider making the full integration of women and their concerns and aspirations in the implementation of the results of UNCED the focus of an up-coming Inter-Parliamentary Conference;

(d) Publish an international directory of parliamentary committees dealing with environment from the point of view of sustainable development, in particular with a view to facilitating contacts and exchanges between these bodies;

(e) Invite the IPU Committee on Environment to make specific proposals for consideration by the Union's governing bodies of further concrete steps which it can take to assist the UNCED process, in particular by:

  • Supporting the Commission on Sustainable Development;
  • Serving as a clearing house for information on parliamentary activities;
  • Monitoring the ratification and evaluating the implementation of the Conventions on Biodiversity and Climate Change;
  • Examining the linkages between environment and trade, especially in preparation for the next round of multilateral trade talks.

16. Finally, the Conference invites the Brazilian National Group to ensure that this Final Document is transmitted to the United Nations General Assembly.



17. Early in the preparatory process it was decided that UNCED should signal the common concern and commitment of the participating countries by a comprehensive, inspirational statement of the principles that should govern the relationship between environment and development. The Rio Declaration can, in fact, be seen as an overview of our common concerns for the future and the principles that must guide our way to overcome them.

18. The Conference recommends that States continue to build on the Rio Declaration by preparing a binding comprehensive charter which would include basic principles for a sustainable planet and would give greater emphasis to the notions of responsibility, equity, interdependence and complexity. In this connection, the Conference draws the attention of States to the Yaoundé Declaration, which contains a comprehensive statement of principles for a sustainable planet, and the work of the Environmental Law Commission of the World Conservation Union (IUCN), which is drafting a document that could provide Governments with elements for further work.


19. The Yaoundé Declaration called for certain general characteristics to be reflected in Agenda 21: it should contain concrete provisions specifying measurable objectives, priorities and targets within specified time horizons; it should cover national and regional action as well as co-ordinated action by international institutions; and it should make clear statements of responsibility for meeting agreed commitments.

20. The Conference recommends that the Commission on Sustainable Development give high priority to regular review of Agenda 21 and the development of measurable objectives and precise targets and schedules. In doing so, it should draw on national, regional and international plans to implement Agenda 21, collaborate with the new Interagency Committee on Sustainable Development and take account of the requirements of the Conventions on Climate Change and Biodiversity.

21. The Conference recognizes that to achieve a significant reordering of priorities in the management of the world's finite resources, consistent with the Yaoundé Declaration, the differential effects of decisions, plans, actions and allocation of resources on women must be fully taken into account. The Conference therefore recommends that all its assessments and recommendations be understood and applied to include the need to define the specific differential impacts on women and to achieve equitable results in the implementation of sustainable development.


Making trade and environment mutually supportive
(Agenda 21: Chapter 2)

22. Increases in trade flows are needed to support sustainable development and bring about an improvement in living standards in developing countries. But a continuing effort will be required to ensure that international economic institutions, such as GATT, UNCTAD and various regional groupings, consistently recognize the interdependencies between environmental and trade considerations, particularly the fact that increasing trade flows cannot be sustained without maintaining the productivity of natural resources. It is also necessary to ensure that environmental standards are not used as a pretext for protection against imports.

23. The Conference recommends that the economic and environmental implications of ongoing trade negotiations be examined in all countries and that multilateral and bilateral trade agreements take full account of environmental implications.

24. The Conference further recommends that States reformulate economic policies that constrain sustainable development such as those that result in discriminatory trade practices, restricted access to markets, unstable prices for commodities, inappropriate subsidies to agricultural production and restrictive commercial practices.

Providing adequate financial resources to developing countries
(Agenda 21: Chapter 2) (see also paragraphs 68 - 72)

25. At UNCED it was recognized that the implementation of Agenda 21 will require substantial new and additional financial resources to developing countries. In addition, relevant technologies must be made more easily available to developing countries. These are the main critical factors on which the success or failure in implementing Agenda 21 in developing countries will depend.

26. The Conference calls on all industrialized countries to meet the 0.7% of GNP target for official development assistance by the year 2000 and to provide new and additional financial resources to meet the incremental costs of developing countries in addressing global environmental problems. It recommends that the efficiency and effectiveness of current programmes of development assistance be carefully evaluated with a view to increasing their utility per unit of cost, and that both the official and commercial debt of developing countries be reduced by forgiveness or concessions at a more rapid rate. First priority should be given to reducing the debt burden of the least developed countries. Debt reduction should, when possible, be linked to programmes aimed at sustainable development.

Focusing on human development, combating poverty, population dynamics and unsustainable patterns of consumption
(Agenda 21: Chapters 3, 4 and 5)

27. Human impact on the earth depends both on the number of people and how much energy and resources each person uses or wastes. Greater awareness of the complexity of issues related to the environment, population growth, resource consumption, and poverty, and new approaches to development are needed to achieve sustainability - to improve the quality of human life in keeping with the physical limits of the earth. Human development, recognizing human physical, mental and spiritual dimensions, must be more widely recognized as a prerequisite to sustainability.

28. The widening gaps between rich and poor, between and within countries are unacceptable. The Conference therefore recommends that all governments consider that policy changes to intensify the fight against poverty must be a main element of the follow-up to UNCED. Technical and financial assistance, job creation, human resource development, improved market access and further debt reduction, as well as ensuring wide public participation in decision-making at all levels, and most importantly the development and articulation of a new ethic, are essential elements. Consumption patterns must be changed to reduce their adverse impact on the environment, and active population policies are called for. The question of population growth must be dealt with through an integrated human development approach, including education and the enhancement of the status of women, improved public health and family planning.

29. To combat poverty, Agenda 21 calls for the development of country-specific programmes with international support. The eradication of poverty and hunger, greater equity in income distribution and human resource development remain major challenges. Agenda 21 defines the struggle against poverty as essential in the achievement of sustainability and as the shared responsibility of all countries.

30. The Conference therefore recommends that each State develop its own plan to combat all forms of poverty and support human development. As appropriate, such plans should include basic health care, education, housing, cross-sectoral policies and special measures to assist vulnerable groups or populations living in ecologically vulnerable areas. International co-operation will be required, particularly in the financial sphere, to bring such plans to fruition.

31. The status and rights of women are a critical dimension of human development. National programmes and legislation should ensure equal access to property and credit and the availability of job opportunities. They should also guarantee women's reproductive rights including the right to information about family planning and the availability of safe contraceptives. National preparations for future UN Conferences, including the 1993 Conference on Human Rights and the 1994 Conference on Population and Development, should give special attention to the critical steps leading to human development.

32. The Conference further recommends that:

(a) Action to combat poverty and respond to population concerns, taking full account of the rights and aspirations of women, be integrated into national planning, policy and decision making processes and receive adequate support from the international community;

(b) In view of the central role of women in promoting sustainable development in many countries, a large percentage of ODA funds should be earmarked for programmes and projects which promote the participation of women and are managed by women.

Reducing health risks from environmental pollution and hazards
(Agenda 21: Chapter 6)

33. In many locations around the world the health of hundreds of millions of people, particularly children, is affected by environmental pollution and degradation. These conditions are often persistent, but, in addition, serious environmental emergencies occur from time to time, such as spills of hydrocarbons and toxic chemicals. Consideration should also be given to reducing health risks that result from exposure to banned pesticides, radioactive compounds, toxic wastes, etc.

34. The Conference recommends that States determine priorities for action in their countries among regions and among the various categories of pollution, having in mind particularly the impacts of pollution on human health. The Conference stresses the need for States to:

(a) Act in accordance with Principles 18 and 19 of the Rio Declaration which relate to international notification of emergencies or activities that may have a significant transboundary effect;

(b) Consider the establishment of national and international environmental emergency response centers and recommend the strengthening of the UN Centre for Urgent Environmental Assistance;

(c) promote better public awareness of the problems of environmental pollution and the means of combating them;

(d) Ensure more effective enforcement mechanisms;

(e) Act in accordance with Principle 24 of the Rio Declaration by strengthening the international Conventions and legal instruments for the protection of the environment in time of war.

Promoting sustainable human settlements development
(Agenda 21: Chapter 7)

35. Human settlements, particularly major urban centers, are points at which many problems of environment and development converge. Because the process of urbanization is continuing worldwide and increasing numbers of people are affected by the problems that occur, cities are priority areas for working towards sustainable development.

36. The Conference recommends that high priority be given to improving the planning and management of human settlements. Key actions should be included in innovative strategies for cities, towns and rural settlements that integrate decisions on land use and land management, mobilize human and material resources and public and private investment so as to provide adequate shelter for all inhabitants, support sustainable energy and transport systems, and promote human resource development and capacity building.

37. The Conference also recommends that international assistance to refugees in developing countries be strengthened to minimize any negative impact on the environment.

Integrating environment and development in decision making
(Agenda 21: Chapter 8)

38. Sustainable development requires a decision making process that fully integrates the consideration of environmental and socio-economic issues and allows a broad range of public participation. The Conference recommends that States:

(a) Review their national legislation and administrative structures, and revise them if need be, in order to establish an effective, integrated decision making process and fiscal and economic policies conducive to sustainable development;

(b) Ensure that there are adequate mechanisms for the involvement of concerned individuals or organizations in decision making;

(c) Attempt to quantify, to the extent possible, adverse environmental impacts of development projects and incorporate mitigating measures into project costs as well as implement them.

39. For the effective integration of environment and development, appropriate laws and institutions need to be complemented by the effective use of economic instruments and incentives. A first step is better measurement of the quantitative relationships between environment and the economy. A practical and equitable principle which could be applied by all States at the national and international level is that of full valuation of natural resources. Full valuation of natural resources within international trade would be profitable and equitable for human beings and sustainable in terms of conserving natural capital.

40. The Conference recommends that systems of national accounts go beyond the traditional economic dimensions to take full account of the environmental and social, as well as the economic, costs and benefits of natural resource use. These factors should be integrated into decision making. The current system of national accounts based on Gross National Product should be supplemented by a calculation of net sustainable national income.


Protection of the atmosphere
(Agenda 21: Chapter 9; Convention on Climate Change)

41. The deterioration of the stratospheric ozone layer and increasing concentrations of "greenhouse" gases in the atmosphere will have significant, mainly adverse, impacts on all countries. The depletion of the ozone layer is already having an impact on human health and on the biological productivity of marine systems. The build- up of greenhouse gases and the consequent changes in climate and sea level will require profound adaptations in the world's agricultural and natural production systems.

42. The framework Convention on Climate Change and the actions recommended in Agenda 21 offer opportunities for a useful start to protecting the atmosphere. The Convention and the process by which it was developed, which involved close collaboration between scientists and negotiators, can be taken as a model for the development of such instruments. The Climate Change Convention does not establish global targets for the level of emissions and conveys little of the urgency to which it was supposed to respond, but it is a foundation upon which improvements can be built; it recognizes the principle of precautionary measures and the need for equity in dealing with the problem. The need remains to approve a set of precise guidelines and priorities for the sustainable production and consumption of energy as called for by the Yaoundé Declaration.

43. The Conference recommends:

(a) The immediate ratification of the Convention by all States;

(b) Commitment to the principal actions for which it calls;

(c) Review and revision, as necessary, of the full range of national legislation and regulations with a view to implementing the Convention;

(d) Resumption of negotiations to establish targets and a schedule for emission reduction in all countries, especially in industrialized ones.

44. The Conference also calls for the implementation of a long-term, coherent information programme to provide decision-makers with a better understanding of the causes and effects of climate change. The Conference urges, therefore, that the UNEP/WMO Information Unit on Climate Change (IUCC) be asked to develop, in close collaboration with IPU, an information system to keep all parliamentarians fully aware of the dimensions and causes of climate change, of the means of minimizing it and of possible adaptations to it.

45. There is an urgent need for States to follow up the action recommendations of Agenda 21 aimed at:

  • More efficient energy production, transmission, distribution and use;
  • Reducing the adverse environmental effects of the industrial, transport and resource development sectors;
  • Realizing the objectives of the Vienna Convention for the protection of the ozone layer, the Montreal Protocol and its 1990 and subsequent amendments;
  • Enhancing efforts to reduce transboundary air pollution;
  • Developing strategies to mitigate the adverse effects of ultraviolet radiations reaching the Earth's surface as a consequence of depletion and modification of the stratospheric ozone layer;
  • Strengthening efforts to introduce renewable energies.

Integrated approach to the planning and management of land resources
(Agenda 21: Chapter 10)

46. The strong and continuing influence of sectoral interests has had damaging and long lasting impacts on components of the environment (air, soil, water, living resources) and consequent adverse effects on the productivity of the natural and modified ecosystems, without which human life could not endure nor economic development occur. Powerful planning and incentive systems should be developed, which reflect agreed social and economic goals, to ensure that land resources are used sustainably in accordance with their highest inherent capabilities. At different levels, these include land capability inventories, certain indigenous methods of land management, primary environmental care (PEC), and strategies such as strategies for sustainability (Caring for the Earth) and national environmental action plans.

47. The Conference recommends that parliamentarians emphasize the importance of adopting land-use planning and management systems and strategies. Moreover, in accordance with Rio Declaration Principle No. 23, the Conference also calls for protecting the environment and the natural resources of peoples under oppression, domination and occupation.

Combating deforestation
(Agenda 21: Chapter 11)

48. Policies, methods and mechanisms to support and develop the ecological, socio-economic and cultural roles and values of forests and forest lands are inadequate in almost all countries. The consequent costs fall not only upon countries individually but also, as the global scale of forest loss increases, on the world community.

49. Agenda 21 adopts a comprehensive approach calling for, inter alia, strengthening of national institutions, international co-operation for the exchange of knowledge and the enhancement of international research, co-ordination of the programmes of different international organizations dealing with forest matters, reforestation and the creation of reserves, full valuation of the goods and services obtained from forests, recognition of the social, economic and ecological importance of forests and an increase in the scientific and technological means available for forest management. With the Declaration of Principles regarding forests, this represents the first expression of a high-level consensus by the international community on the conservation, management and sustainable development of all types of forests. The Declaration of Principles embodied the notion that forests and their ecological functions are an economic resource under the jurisdiction of the States where they are located, the treatment of which must take account of domestic economic factors, with special consideration for the needs of people living in forests, and requires a favourable international economic order.

50. The Conference recommends that States review the proposals in Agenda 21 for better forest management and implement them as appropriate. The Conference further recommends that the Statement of Forest Principles be analyzed with a view to improving it and to the reopening of international negotiations on a framework convention.

Combating desertification
(Agenda 21: Chapter 12)

51. Desertification is caused by many factors including climate variation and human activities. It reduces the carrying capacity of land for humans and other animals, causes soil fertility to decline and results in widespread poverty. Desertification can be combated most effectively through the good and timely management of lands that are at risk or only slightly affected. Agenda 21 provides details of desirable programmes on:

  • Strengthening the relevant knowledge base;
  • Combating land degradation through intensified soil conservation, afforestation and reforestation;
  • Eradication of poverty and promotion of alternative livelihood systems;
  • Integration of anti-desertification programmes into national development plans and national environmental planning;Drought preparedness and drought relief schemes;
  • Encouraging and promoting popular participation and environmental education.

52. The Conference recommends that States review the proposals in Agenda 21 for combating desertification and land degradation and implement them as appropriate. The Conference further recommends that States promote the establishment under the General Assembly of an inter-governmental negotiating committee for the elaboration of an international convention to combat desertification in countries experiencing serious drought or desertification, particularly in Africa, with a view to finalizing such a convention by June 1994.

Biodiversity and biotechnology
(Agenda 21: Chapters 15 and 16; Convention on Biodiversity)

53. Biodiversity is an irreplaceable capital asset, yet it is being rapidly depleted. Widespread concern about the consequent foreclosure of options for the future stimulated the preparation of the Convention on Biological Diversity. It is a framework convention, i.e. one which leaves it to each government to decide for itself how best to conserve its biodiversity: but it has been a major step in creating an international consensus on the principles that must govern effective action. Its implementation will require the transfer of additional financial resources to developing countries, but the exact amounts required have not yet been defined nor have the mechanisms for transferring the funds.

54. Biotechnology is a rapidly emerging field which can enable the development of better health care, enhanced food security, more efficient industrial processes, etc. The further evolution of biotechnology must take account of complex requirements for the safety of human health and the environment, nationally and internationally. It is essential to ensure that countries which supply genetic resources participate fully and fairly in the benefits of biotechnology.

55. Important national actions for the conservation of biological diversity and the management of biotechnology are set out in greater detail in Agenda 21.

56. The Conference recommends that governments carefully review the Convention on Biological Diversity and the detailed recommendations in Chapters 15 and 16 of Agenda 21 with a view to identifying actions that they should undertake. They should review and revise the full range of national legislation affecting implementation of the Convention. The Conference further recommends that governments:

(a) Ratify the Convention on Biological Diversity and, as a matter of urgency, establish a secretariat for the Convention, ensuring adequate financial support and the creation of strong links with relevant international organizations, such as IUCN and with the CITES Secretariat;

(b) Establish an independent International Council on Biodiversity with close working relations with the Secretariat of the Convention;

(c) Establish within a more comprehensive system such as the Global Environmental Monitoring System (GEMS), a capacity for timely dissemination of information on biodiversity;

(d) Integrate strategies for the conservation of biodiversity with national strategies for sustainability and national development strategies and plans;

(e) Develop national biodiversity conservation plans;

(f) Develop mechanisms and agreements to enable and regulate access to genetic resources on mutually agreed terms;

(g) Transfer skills, technology and knowledge and provide funds for the management of biodiversity and biotechnology on concessional and preferential terms;

(h) Notify the International Council on Biodiversity of the bilateral agreements concluded under (f) and (g) above;

(i) Develop methods for equitable sharing of benefits arising from making use of genetic resources on mutually agreed terms;

(j) Empower individuals and local communities to benefit from biodiversity conservation and biotechnology development and application;

(k) Determine where transboundary ecosystems and migratory species warrant joint action by States and consult to that end;

(l) Support the inception of negotiations to strengthen existing mechanisms for drawing up a list of endangered species which must be protected by States and to define criteria for the identification of areas where biological wealth is of worldwide importance.

Protection and management of the oceans and coastal zones
(Agenda 21: Chapter 17)

57. The marine environment is a vital component of the global life-support system and a capital asset upon which sustainable development can be based. But it is being increasingly degraded by pollution largely from land-based sources, with adverse effects on marine living resources, which are also threatened by over-exploitation. A major reason for the persistence of land-based pollution has been failure to take account of marine pollution in the full range of land and watershed management policies and in the laws governing sources of airborne pollution. Sectoralized legal and administrative structures complicate this effort, which is even more difficult where ships, fish and currents move from one jurisdiction to another and even beyond to areas where there is no territorial jurisdiction.

58. The Conference recommends that States ensure that their conservation and management measures conform to those recommended in Agenda 21. The Conference particularly recommends that each country assess the major causes of marine pollution and coastal and marine habitat degradation. Parliaments should then review and revise national laws so that they will enable a significant reduction of marine pollution and habitat degradation. The Conference further recommends that those countries that have not yet done so ratify without delay the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and other global and regional legal instruments dealing with marine pollution or the conservation of marine living resources.

59. Management of high seas fisheries is inadequate in many areas and some stocks are overutilized with serious socio-economic consequences. There is a need to address inadequacies not only in management but also in biological knowledge and statistics. There is also a need to consider management on a multi-species, i.e. ecosystem, basis.

60. The Conference recommends that States adopt the measures for better management of high seas fisheries set out in Agenda 21, and particularly that they convene as soon as possible an intergovernmental conference under United Nations auspices with a view to assessing problems relating to highly migratory and straddling fish stocks and considering means of improving co-operation for their resolution.

Integrated approaches to the development, management and use of freshwater resources
(Agenda 21: Chapter 18)

61. The importance of freshwater is well known, yet supplies are increasingly and often dangerously polluted in many parts of the world, threatening human health and the integrity of vital ecological processes. In many areas the quantities of water available will soon be unable to meet the demands that growing populations will place on them. Failure to integrate the management of freshwater resources with the management of other resources and with industrial and urban development is a major problem. Conservation of aquatic species and ecosystems is inadequate in most countries. International action is needed to manage fresh waters and aquatic resources in shared river basins, but appropriate institutional arrangements are generally lacking or inadequate.

62. The Conference recommends that States pay particular attention to the importance of a dynamic, intersectoral, interdisciplinary approach to planning and management at a national, strategic level when implementing relevant recommendations in Chapter 18 of Agenda 21. For boundary and transboundary waters where appropriate intergovernmental mechanisms do not exist, governments should consult with a view to establishing them. It also recommends that Governments start working, without further delay, on drafting a convention on drinking water".

Waste management
(Agenda 21: Chapters 19, 20, 21 and 22)

63. Effective management of hazardous and solid wastes is of paramount importance for human health, protection of the environment, natural resource management and sustainable development. Yet increasing numbers of people, particularly in developed countries, are generating ever greater per capita amounts of wastes, exceeding the management capacity of most countries. Agenda 21 highlights the need to reduce production of wastes as much as desirable, to promote their safe disposal and to restrict severely or prohibit altogether, according to circumstances, any traffic in the substances.

64. The Conference recommends that States:

(a) Review and, if necessary, strengthen national laws and systems of incentives to ensure that they are effective in reducing or eliminating the generation of wastes, and strengthen legislation concerning transboundary movements of hazardous materials, including radioactive wastes;

(b) Institute reuse and recycling in cases when that is possible, and promote the disposal and treatment of unavoidable wastes in an environmentally sound manner;

(c) Adopt a materials management approach to industrial processes as a means of reducing waste and optimizing efficiency;

(d) Develop effective measures to prevent the dumping in developing countries of toxic substances such as hospital wastes, banned pesticides, nuclear wastes, etc.

65. It also recommends that States that have not yet signed and ratified the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes should do so without delay and that criteria and guidelines necessary for the implementation of the Convention be developed as soon as possible. The Conference also recommends the signature and ratification of other relevant conventions and strengthening of efforts to promote the environmentally sound management of radioactive wastes as called for in Chapter 22 of Agenda 21.


66. Public and NGO involvement in the UNCED process was unprecedented as compared to any other international negotiation process. This made it a unique learning experience in the handling of complex relationships between environment and development for governments, scientific communities, business associations and NGOs. The active participation of NGOs, business and industry, labour unions, scientists and groups representing women, youth and indigenous peoples will be of utmost importance for strong follow-up of UNCED at the local, national, regional and global levels.

67. The Conference recommends that States:

(a) Review the comprehensive set of recommendations on this topic contained in Chapters 24-32 of Agenda 21 with a view to ensuring that their legislation and administrative arrangements support the implementation of these recommendations;

(b) Support the participation of women, youth and indigenous people and of interest groups in planning and undertaking programmes for sustainable development at the local, national and international levels. Parliaments should sponsor public hearings and consultations, require public participation and access to relevant documentation by law, and make appropriate budgetary provisions.


Financial resources and mechanisms
(Agenda 21: Chapter 33)

68. Agenda 21 and the Conventions on Climate Change and Biodiversity clearly recognize the need for new and additional transfers of funds from developed to developing countries to implement the conventions and respond to the recommendations of Agenda 21. The extreme complexity of environmental challenges (global, regional, national, provincial and local) requires a flexible system made up of diversified financing mechanisms: IDA, regional banks, Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and other multilateral funds, UNDP, United Nations Specialized Agencies, technical co-operation institutions, bilateral ODA programmes, debt relief, private funds, new forms of financing, etc.

69. Agenda 21 includes indicative estimates of the costs of the actions that it recommends. These totaled over $600 billion annually for the period 1993-2000, including about $125 billion on grant or concessional terms to be made available to developing countries from the international community. Thus, it is clear that financing of the implementation of Agenda 21 to a large extent will have to come from the public and private sectors of each country. The costs of implementing the Biodiversity and Climate Change Conventions are not yet clear, mainly because they are framework conventions awaiting further definition of the precise action needed to put them into effect.

70. Several possible sources of the $125 billion per year resource transfer required are noted, but there is no indication of how much might be sought from one source or another. However, some developed countries reaffirmed their commitments to reach the target of 0.7% of GNP for ODA, thus doubling the present flow, some agreeing on the year 2000 as a target date. The extent to which achievement of this target would satisfy the total requirement is not clear. The GEF is presently funded at about $1.3 billion for the period 1990-1993. The GEF should be restructured to expand its scope and should be provided with increased resources. To enable a balanced and equitable representation of interests of both developed and developing countries, it should be democratic and transparent in its decision-making and operations. The GEF will be the source of some of the resources necessary for implementation of the conventions on biodiversity and climate change. Further commitments, at least in respect of the conventions, presumably in the form of pledges to replenish the GEF, may be tied to more precise definition of the needs.

71. The Conference recommends that governments:

(a) Identify the possibilities for increased concessional aid in support of sustainable development, perhaps by cutting back on objects of expenditure that do not meet agreed tests of sustainability, particularly military expenditure in all countries;

(b) Arrange for more rapid reduction of both the official and commercial debt of developing countries giving priorities to least developed countries and when possible linked to programmes aimed at sustainable development;

(c) Support the further technical work and international political agreement needed to clarify the extent of additional technical assistance required for the implementation of the Conventions on Climate Change and Biodiversity.

72. The implementation of technological projects and resource management in each country and region depends on available intellectual and technical capacity. The emigration of trained persons, the "brain drain", diminishes that capacity. The Conference recommends that international consultant agencies help by giving preference to local technicians, selecting them by competition and maintaining them in their positions.

Transfer of environmentally-sound technology and capacity building
(Agenda 21: Chapter 34)

73. The achievement of sustainable development is slowed down in many developing countries and, often, in countries in transition towards a market economy because they lack access to safe and environmentally sound technologies for application in industry, agriculture, etc. There is also a corresponding need for training related not only to the application of technology but also to relevant scientific and professional fields. The long-term benefits of investments in this area are likely to be at least as great as of those in infrastructure.

74. The Conference recommends that governments individually and through the appropriate intergovernmental organizations take whatever steps are needed to:

(a) Ensure access to and transfer of safe and environmentally sound technologies on concessional and preferential terms to developing countries;

(b) Support the development and funding of international networks on technology availability and technology assessments.

75. The Conference further recommends that programmes of development co-operation give greater emphasis to capacity building and to projects of primarily local concern and scale, and less emphasis to megaprojects, which generally yield an unsatisfactory flow and distribution of benefits.

International institutional arrangements
(Agenda 21: Chapter 38)

76. The Conference encourages and supports the efforts being made towards more effective co-ordination of activities within the United Nations system. Multilateral co-operation offers important comparative advantages in the form of a multisectoral approach to development. To make optimal use of these opportunities, the UN should be strengthened in the social, economic and environmental field. A stronger and more efficient UN will provide better support to developing countries in their pursuit of sustainable development objectives.

77. Agenda 21 established a framework for promoting the integration of economic, social and environmental factors affecting sustainable development. Its implementation requires new mechanisms to harmonize and co-ordinate the activities of global and regional organizations within that framework, both conceptually and programmatically.

78. The most visible change in the system of international institutions after Rio will be the creation of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), a high­level body intended to rationalize intergovernmental decision making on environment and development and review progress in the implementation of Agenda 21.

79. While the mandate, structure and precise role of the Commission within the UN system are still being discussed, the Conference believes that, together with the new Interagency Committee on Sustainable Development (IACSD), it should be charged with:

  • Maintaining a strong political commitment to implement and update Agenda 21 and set new goals;
  • Ensuring an integrated approach to its implementation and updating;
  • Monitoring progress at international, regional and national levels;
  • Responding to new issues and problems and identifying priorities;
  • Mobilizing financial and policy commitments to advance sustainable development.

80. The Commission should become operational as soon as possible. It should maintain a central role within the economic and social structure of the United Nations as that system is reformed. The Secretariat for the Commission and the IACSD should report directly to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The Commission should have appropriate and flexible procedures for effective participation by and contributions from intergovernmental organizations and qualified NGOs, including such bodies as the IPU.

81. The Commission should also be mandated to monitor the measures taken by donors to honour their financial obligations, thus safeguarding the link established between the implementation of Agenda 21 on the one hand and the provision of financial resources on the other.

Information for decision making

82. Action must be based on accurate information. A great deal of information relevant to the pursuit of sustainable development exists now and its volume is continually growing. The most significant problem is the lack of capacity to integrate information relevant to environment and development and to work out useful indicators of sustainability. This has been a particular difficulty in developing countries.

83. Agenda 21 calls, among other things, for the development of a range of indicators of sustainability at the national and global levels and for strengthening UNEP's Earthwatch, the Global Environmental Monitoring System (GEMS), the Global Resource Information Database (GRID) and the Information Unit on Climate Change (IUCC). It also calls for establishing a new Development Watch to collect and interpret economic and social information, linking the two systems through an appropriate UN office. It calls in addition for human resources development and capacity building relevant to the developing countries' needs for information. It also stresses the importance of improving the availability and accessibility of information.

84. The Conference recommends that governments and parliaments identify the needs for improving the supplies and flows of relevant information in their own countries and take action to meet those needs, and that they further support the improvement of international mechanisms for collecting, analyzing and disseminating information and for strengthening national research, monitoring and assessment capabilities.

Promoting education for sustainable development
(Agenda 21: Chapter 36)

85. Public awareness and understanding of sustainable development provide the basis for the political action needed to achieve it. There is still a need for a greater awareness and better understanding on a world scale.

86. The Conference therefore recommends that educational programmes in which environment and development concepts are clearly explained be made available in all countries from primary schools to post-secondary institutions and adult education programmes. There should also be extensive programmes for the eradication of illiteracy.

87. The Conference recognizes that changes of values and attitudes are necessary in order to achieve the aim of sustainable development. Such universal values should be inculcated in education for children from an early age.

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