3 Rio Conventions

The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit, the Rio Summit, the Rio Conference, and the Earth Summit (Portuguese: ECO92), was a major United Nations conference held in Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June 1992. A number of agreements were presented during the conference, among which the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), United Nations Convention on Combat of Desertification/Land Degradation (UNCCD) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), commonly referred to as the three Rio Conventions. The three are intrinsically linked. It is in this context that the Joint Liaison Group was set up to boost cooperation among the three Conventions, with the ultimate aim of developing synergies in their activities on issues of mutual concern. It now also incorporates the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

The issues addressed at the 1992 Rio UNCED included:

  • systematic scrutiny of patterns of production — particularly the production of toxic components, such as lead in gasoline, or poisonous waste including radioactive chemicals
  • alternative sources of energy to replace the use of fossil fuels which delegates linked to global climate change
  • new reliance on public transportation systems in order to reduce vehicle emissions, congestion in cities and the health problems caused by polluted air and smoke
  • the growing usage and limited supply of water

The Earth Summit resulted in the following documents:

  • Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (document can be downloaded here)
  • Agenda 21 (document can be downloaded here)
  • Forest Principles (document can be downloaded here)

Moreover, important legally binding multilateral environmental agreements (Rio Conventions) were opened for signature:

  • Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) – link to specific 3Rio subsite
  • Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – link to specific 3Rio subsite
  • United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) – link to specific 3Rio subsite

In order to ensure compliance to the agreements at Rio (particularly the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and Agenda 21), delegates to the Earth Summit established the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). In 2013, the CSD was replaced by the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development that meets every year as part of the ECOSOC meetings, and every fourth year as part of the General Assembly meetings. 

Rio+20 and SDGs

In 2012, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development was also held in Rio, and is also commonly called Rio+20 or Rio Earth Summit 2012. It resulted in a focused political outcome document which contains clear and practical measures for implementing sustainable development.

In Rio, Member States decided to launch a process to develop a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will build upon the Millennium Development Goals and converge with the post 2015 development agenda. The Conference adopted ground-breaking guidelines on green economy policies and parties decided to establish an intergovernmental process under the General Assembly to prepare options on a strategy for sustainable development financing. They also agreed to establish a high-level political forum for sustainable development.

On the institutional front, Parties agreed to strengthen the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on several fronts and requested the United Nations Statistical Commission, in consultation with relevant United Nations system entities and other relevant organizations, to launch a programme of work in the area of measures of progress to complement gross domestic product in order to better inform policy decisions.

A 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production patterns was adopted, as contained in document A/CONF.216/5, and forward-looking decisions on a number of thematic areas, including energy, food security, oceans, cities were taken. To specifically address the dire straits in which Small Island States find themselves, the Parties decided to convene a Third International Conference on SIDS in 2014.

The Rio +20 Conference galvanized the attention of thousands of representatives of the UN system and major groups. It resulted in over 700 voluntary commitments and witnessed the formation of new partnerships to advance sustainable development.

Cambodia also presented its Rio+20 Report at the Conference (document can be downloaded here).

Cambodia Sustainable Development Links

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Department of Biodiversity, GSSD, 3rd Floor, Morodok Techo Building, Lot 503, Sangkat Tonle Bassac, Chamkarmon, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

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