Sangeetha Pulapaka

he United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also called the Earth Summit, took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 1992. This largest-ever world meeting brought Heads of State and government officials together with international organizations and representatives of non-government organizations (NGOs) from around the world.

A 700 page global plan of action called Agenda 21 was produced as a result of the Earth Summit: it represents the consensus reached by 178 States on how we can secure OUR future. Agenda 21 is like a blueprint (or maybe we should call it a "greenprint"!) for global partnership aiming at a high quality environment and a healthy economy for all peoples of the planet.

Agenda 21 addresses the critical issues we face as a global community: continuing damage to ecosystems, the worsening of poverty, hunger and ill health, increasing world population and illiteracy. Agenda 21 is composed of 40 chapters that identify each challenge and propose simple realistic solutions towards sustainable development which is: meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Around the world, governments, businesses, non-governmental and other organizations are already putting the ideas from Agenda 21 to work. It is crucial to maintain the momentum of the Rio process and implement the agreements that were reached. This task will require not only the leadership and funding of governments and business, but also the vision, cooperation and work of every citizen. Sustainable development cannot be achieved without all sectors of society working together.