RE: Agenda 21 for Dummies
Nothing really new here, status-quo green globalization rhetoric from Gorby but for the sake of archiving since it was scrubbed from the original site.
Quote:The Earth Charter speech at the Rio+5 Forum
President Mikhail Gorbachev
March 18 th, 1997
There are quite a few reasons to consider the Rio +5 Forum to be both very important and necessary. Having made a lot of contacts and being engaged in discussions for the last two days, I am fully aware of the fact that we all have been brought here by the same concern about the present and future, both of our planet and humankind.
Those who act mainly within the framework of non-governmental organizations might feel the difficulty to keep track of that new paradigm which could substitute the old one, within the limits of which we have lived and developed for the last three hundred years. It is enormously difficult to change the situation for the better. We all have confronted the choice of either being swept away by time and nature, or of facing the realities, assessing the present situation in our world, in nature, to our relationships with our fellow human beings, their situations and their needs. All of this forces us to accept the fact that this civilization has already outlived itself, and we all have to think about the difficult transition based on consensus on the main values which could help us to build our future.
NOT ENOUGH AFTER EARTH SUMMIT 92
We all feel now that Agenda 21's ecology goals must move into what we call sustainable development; it is high time to progress to real action. Moreover, I am convinced that we are shamefully behind schedule! Life severely punishes us for this lack of speed, courage and insight. Speaking from Rio de Janeiro, this beautiful city, we, representatives from many countries, people who have access to a wider range of ecological knowledge and information than others, we have to tell to all the people of the world, all the governments, business people, that our hopes for Rio 92, UN summit for environment and development, have yet not come true. I do not know whether all of you will support me, but I would only like to express this conclusion as my own assessment as well that of the international organization, Green Cross.
This assessment is a cause for great concern. Both the time and the present ecological situation make us to undertake resolute actions. In spite of the fact that the Rio 92 Declaration was a unique and momentous event, this Declaration has expressed only what it could at that period. It was not enough from the conceptual point of view, as it remained on anthropocentric position. This is its main and serious drawback. We cannot afford to overlook ecological problems, to try to pretend that nothing really is going on, that everything could somehow settle by itself. We all witness those tremendous pressures to which the global ecosystem is subjected! Within this global ecosystem, limited by its own parameters (as has already been proved by scientists), there has developed a new societal subsystem, whose impact has grown by factors of tens, even hundreds times and is still growing. Total world GNP by the beginning of this century came up to only US$ 60bln, while modern economy creates a daily GNP of exactly the same volume! Here are the rates of growth of this new societal subsystem, which also means the growth of wastes, consumption of natural resources, of new stresses on the ecosystem.
The population of the Earth has grown by five times since the beginning of the XX-th century. Consumption of clear water has grown form 600 cubic kilometers to 3'500 cubic kilometers, more than by six times. It has become widely accepted that if our humankind continues to develop by the old patterns, the consequences may include such things as uncontrollable growth of population, dramatic ecological changes and even irreversible changes in our biosphere, up to the total extermination of a human being as a species. This was the verdict of 1500 scientists, 101 Nobel Prize winners among them, who gathered in 1992 in Washington: if everything goes on according to old patterns using the same technologies and not changing our present lifestyles, irreversible changes will occur in a biosphere in 30-40 years. Just imagine. It seems like yesterday, but 5 years have already passed since this verdict was pronounced. Time flies very fast! If we once had 30 years at our disposal, now we have only 25 years, the span of one generation. Still, I do not think that this situation is fatal. We must not just kneel and close our eyes in hope that everything will be resolved somehow. A change from the well-trod roads of civilization is necessary and inevitable. Human beings have already exceeded all Nature's credit limits. In one word, we, the humankind, have to live according the demands of objective laws of our biosphere. Our choice is quite limited, and we also have not much time left: we either float along the currents of fate or, having drawn right conclusions, undertake necessary actions, make first steps. I think, that when we speak about living within the limits set by biosphere, it in no way means that the evolution of the humankind must stop at this point. Evolution of civilization, development of a human spirit, culture, do not have any other limits but those set by biosphere.
HUMANKIND NEEDS EARTH CHARTER
It is extremely important to understand and accept, our situation. Such understanding and acceptance should be the starting point for all our further steps and decisions, both political and practical. We have to make transition from the idea that a man is a king of nature, to the understanding that a man is a part of the biosphere. This change of civilization orientations is by no means easy; this has been proved by discussions which we held while preparing of the Earth Charter by the initiative of Prime Minister Lubbers and in contact with the Earth Council. It is always very difficult to get to the vista of a free thought which could enlighten our future and also give guidelines for our everyday life. It has already become a commonplace to speak about the difficulties of such transition. I would only stress the fact that we have at last achieved the consensus on urgent necessity of changes. This is only the first step, which allow us to think about a long road ahead.
We have to set directions and act on planetary, national and individual levels. The main goal of the Earth Charter, the draft of which we adopted 18 March, 1997, is formation of a new outlook; a new set of values. The discussion on these issues was extremely difficult. We have even debated the desirability of addressing this semi-finished document to the world public, governments, business. Yes, I admit that this document is far from being ideal. It is far from those 10 or 15 Commandments which we all know about and which have played their role for 2000 years. But here is the document which can be considered as an important step toward those famous testaments. The members of the Earth Charter Commission came to the conclusion that we need this intermediate version, a preliminary draft which should be taken from the shuttered world of conferences and round tables to the turbulent world of the world public. Our planet Earth existed billions of years. There was long periods of transitions from one form of life to others, without a human. If we do not change our behavior it might happen again, and this depends on us. In its essence the Earth Charter shifts the focus to people on the Earth, their responsibilities, their morals and spirituality, their way of consumption. To save humankind and all future generations, we must save the Earth. By saving the Earth, humankind saves himself; it is that easy to understand! Our Charter gives an answer to the question: what does humankind need to do to provide an answer the global ecological challenge?
The Earth Charter to civil society. Governments and international institutions strangle all ecological initiatives. Both the Earth Council, Maurice Strong and we in the Green Cross feel the difficulties which we encounter, trying to implement ideas of radical changes in our everyday life, thus answering the challenge of the biosphere.
That is why our addressee is a worldwide civil society. I firmly believe that if the civil society doesn't become the master of its own destiny in the nearest future, all the projects, including the Earth Charter will be doomed.
That is why the Earth Charter is so important for us: with its help we can address all the people who feel an urgent need to adopt it and who will follow it. That is the reason for our issuing the Charter without giving it the final polish. We want to expose it to the worldwide discussions and criticisms, thus waking up people, provoking action.
Again, the Earth Charter is not a draft which seeks to dictate for the future civilization, future humankind. I think we are wise enough not to repeat our past illusions. Nobody can foresee what kind of future is in a store for us. But we can use experience of the founding fathers of the United States' Constitution. They decided to create such document which would have become a picture of a perfect motherland for all the future generations of the US citizens. But then the founding fathers of the US Constitution decided to elaborate a set of rules for the functioning of institutions and human relationship which could be used by future generations with inevitable corrections imposed by future historic realities. And so appeared the set of rules. The idea of creating a set of rules seems to me quite appealing for our mutual work on the Earth Charter. The Earth Charter- is a set of rules of its own kind, but in this case I am afraid that the word "rules" somehow diminishes the real meaning of this idea. It is rather a set of moral and practical orientations, ethical imperatives, that provide us with a possibility to create our future in full awareness of modern global environment, possibilities to move forward to rearranging our life on this planet for the better, to dramatic changes in our consciousness, in politics, business life, in public life of all humankind. This idea was used as a basis for our work on the Earth Charter.
We looked at the world with open eyes, we fully acknowledge existence of countries which have left the rest of the world far behind in their socio-economic development. We believe that without solidarity on a planetary level we can't answer the challenge of ecology; we simply can't make it if there still is poverty in the world, and this painful issue must be considered by us as one of the top global problems.
We look at the world and see that we cannot ignore lessons of the past and we cannot make the same mistakes of imposing upon peoples various utopias and concepts. We all have recently witnessed the crash of one of the largest experiments of our time-the communist model of bringing happiness to humankind As soon as we have managed to set ourselves free and open the way to the freedom of choice and democratic institutions for realization of those choices, there appeared new prophets declaring that the only way out for now is "westernization of the world". I do not think that it is a wise decision. It is just a new attempt to dictate some artificial scheme which many countries would not accept. And what is to be expected in the world if someone tries again to impose their way of development using one's economic, technological and military domination? That is why we declare in the Earth Charter: the world is integrated unity, but it is also the integration of diversity; all of us are equal on the Earth, in the face of Nature, in the face of each other, one nation in the face of the others. We specifically emphasize the unique input made not only by the great nations but also indigenous peoples, which could be referred to as great peoples due to their knowledge of a caring and friendly relationship with nature. This is exactly what the Earth Charter declares and offers as a milestone for the future. We have already expressed our meaning that it is impossible to move toward future development based on only one option.
BUILD OUR FUTURE
We see the future as a cooperation of peoples, which implies a dialog of cultures, religions, traditions. We are trying to use this model as a cornerstone for the Earth Charter, in hope that we will create the document addressed to the Planet Earth.
I want to state here, that we are terribly separated now, and everything which is taking place now in Rio serves the purpose of consolidation of all public, cultural and ecological movements for the benefit of our mutual future. Isn't it a great achievement that we, representatives of civil society from all countries, can openly meet here and share our thoughts, offer our considerations? Some 10-15 years ago the question: "What kind of future we must build?"- would be answered quite easily. The socialist world would have answered that communism is our future, the opposite side would have declared that our future is freedom, market and capitalism. Everything was "crystal clear". And everything would have been very simple and very frightening. Now we have got the chance to get together as people concerned about our mutual future, as people who accept the Earth in all her diversity and also as an entity, united by a mutual destiny. Now we have a perfect chance to use our intellectual, moral and spiritual experience to answer the challenges of the next millennium. I believe that all those involved both at the governmental and civil society levels have to help people to get rid of their fear of future. People are demoralized nowadays. They are demoralized by worsening of the general situation in the countries which were stable and secure only recently.
People are concerned about their workplaces, about their own future and the future of their children, health and poverty problems. Many of them try to escape from those problems by hiding from harsh realities of our world. This is very dangerous, because such a person disconnects oneself from real life, thinking that he may be safer there. Actually, a person may try to safe oneself, by cutting off all the connections with this world, by getting lost as a tiny wave in the ocean. But it is extremely dangerous from the point of view of global challenges, which we have to answer on the threshold of the 21st century. I believe that the Earth Charter gives ethical and moral orientations that will help to strengthen the human spirit. Only a person who has self-confidence, open to friendship and solidarity, can answer the challenges of our time.
I believe that the Earth Charter opens a new phase not only in ecological movement, but also in the world's public life. We must do everything we can, so that this Charter is accepted exactly as it was designed: a set of vitally important rules. I must tell you that I have met quite a few cynics in my life, and their number will still multiply. Somehow we have all got used to the fact that everything is in the hands of politicians, that our main goal is to please the UN, so that they would treat the Earth Charter benevolently, and that business is not too aggressive to our ecological demands. It is not that our Charter is the basis for the total war against everyone, not at all! All we want to achieve by working on this document is to show to all peoples of the world, politicians and business circles, that we have only one option, that is to live within the demands of nature. We must do everything we can to be worthy of our time, to prove that we are a mature society, able to assess our situation and act wisely and responsibly in the interests of the present and future generations.
[ Standing ovation ]
President of Green Cross International
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The Rio+5 Conference in 1997 marked the transition from Agenda 21 to Sustainable Development and was preceded by the Rio Declaration in 1992.
Quote:Rio Declaration on Environment and Development
12 August 1992
Agenda 21 is a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the United Nations System, Governments, and Major Groups in every area in which humans impact on the environment.
Agenda 21, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and the Statement of Principles for the Sustainable Management of Forests were adopted by more than 178 Governments at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED, a.k.a. "the Earth Summit") held in Rio de Janerio, Brazil, 3 to 14 June 1992.
This conference was held as a response to the Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, Our Common Future ("the Brundtland Report"). As its name suggests, UNCED was not just a sequel to the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment; it represented a concerted effort to synthesize and integrate environment and development issues. For the first time, the international community endorsed sustainable development, changing the prior approach to development, which called for peace and security, economic development, human rights and supportive national governance, by adding a fifth element, protection of the environment.
The Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) was created in December 1992 to ensure effective follow-up of UNCED, to monitor and report on implementation of the agreements at the local, national, regional and international levels. It was agreed that a five year review of Earth Summit progress would be made in 1997 by the United Nations General Assembly meeting in special session.
The full implementation of Agenda 21, the Programme for Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and the Commitments to the Rio principles, were strongly reaffirmed at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) held in Johannesburg, South Africa from 26 August to 4 September 2002.
Full Text of the Rio Declaration, the original 1992 version.
REPORT OF THE UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON
ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT*
(Rio de Janeiro, 3-14 June 1992)
RIO DECLARATION ON ENVIRONMENT AND DEVELOPMENT
The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development,
Having met at Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June 1992,
Reaffirming the Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human
Environment, adopted at Stockholm on 16 June 1972, a/ and seeking to build upon
With the goal of establishing a new and equitable global partnership
through the creation of new levels of cooperation among States, key sectors of
societies and people,
Working towards international agreements which respect the interests of
all and protect the integrity of the global environmental and developmental
Recognizing the integral and interdependent nature of the Earth, our
Human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development.
They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.
States have, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the
principles of international law, the sovereign right to exploit their own
resources pursuant to their own environmental and developmental policies, and
the responsibility to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction or
control do not cause damage to the environment of other States or of areas
beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.
The right to development must be fulfilled so as to equitably meet
developmental and environmental needs of present and future generations.
In order to achieve sustainable development, environmental protection
shall constitute an integral part of the development process and cannot be
considered in isolation from it.
All States and all people shall cooperate in the essential task of
eradicating poverty as an indispensable requirement for sustainable
development, in order to decrease the disparities in standards of living and
better meet the needs of the majority of the people of the world.
The special situation and needs of developing countries, particularly the
least developed and those most environmentally vulnerable, shall be given
special priority. International actions in the field of environment and
development should also address the interests and needs of all countries.
States shall cooperate in a spirit of global partnership to conserve,
protect and restore the health and integrity of the Earth's ecosystem. In view
of the different contributions to global environmental degradation, States have
common but differentiated responsibilities. The developed countries
acknowledge the responsibility that they bear in the international pursuit of
sustainable development in view of the pressures their societies place on the
global environment and of the technologies and financial resources they
To achieve sustainable development and a higher quality of life for all
people, States should reduce and eliminate unsustainable patterns of production
and consumption and promote appropriate demographic policies.
States should cooperate to strengthen endogenous capacity-building for
sustainable development by improving scientific understanding through exchanges
of scientific and technological knowledge, and by enhancing the development,
adaptation, diffusion and transfer of technologies, including new and
Environmental issues are best handled with the participation of all
concerned citizens, at the relevant level. At the national level, each
individual shall have appropriate access to information concerning the
environment that is held by public authorities, including information on
hazardous materials and activities in their communities, and the opportunity
to participate in decision-making processes. States shall facilitate and
encourage public awareness and participation by making information widely
available. Effective access to judicial and administrative proceedings,
including redress and remedy, shall be provided.
States shall enact effective environmental legislation. Environmental
standards, management objectives and priorities should reflect the
environmental and developmental context to which they apply. Standards applied
by some countries may be inappropriate and of unwarranted economic and social
cost to other countries, in particular developing countries.
States should cooperate to promote a supportive and open international
economic system that would lead to economic growth and sustainable development
in all countries, to better address the problems of environmental degradation.
Trade policy measures for environmental purposes should not constitute a means
of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination or a disguised restriction on
international trade. Unilateral actions to deal with environmental challenges
outside the jurisdiction of the importing country should be avoided.
Environmental measures addressing transboundary or global environmental
problems should, as far as possible, be based on an international consensus.
States shall develop national law regarding liability and compensation
for the victims of pollution and other environmental damage. States shall also
cooperate in an expeditious and more determined manner to develop further
international law regarding liability and compensation for adverse effects of
environmental damage caused by activities within their jurisdiction or control
to areas beyond their jurisdiction.
States should effectively cooperate to discourage or prevent the
relocation and transfer to other States of any activities and substances that
cause severe environmental degradation or are found to be harmful to human
In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be
widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are
threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty
shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent
National authorities should endeavour to promote the internalization of
environmental costs and the use of economic instruments, taking into account
the approach that the polluter should, in principle, bear the cost of
pollution, with due regard to the public interest and without distorting
international trade and investment.
Environmental impact assessment, as a national instrument, shall be
undertaken for proposed activities that are likely to have a significant
adverse impact on the environment and are subject to a decision of a competent
States shall immediately notify other States of any natural disasters or
other emergencies that are likely to produce sudden harmful effects on the
environment of those States. Every effort shall be made by the international
community to help States so afflicted.
States shall provide prior and timely notification and relevant
information to potentially affected States on activities that may have a
significant adverse transboundary environmental effect and shall consult with
those States at an early stage and in good faith.
Women have a vital role in environmental management and development.
Their full participation is therefore essential to achieve sustainable
The creativity, ideals and courage of the youth of the world should be
mobilized to forge a global partnership in order to achieve sustainable
development and ensure a better future for all.
Indigenous people and their communities and other local communities have
a vital role in environmental management and development because of their
knowledge and traditional practices. States should recognize and duly support
their identity, culture and interests and enable their effective participation
in the achievement of sustainable development.
The environment and natural resources of people under oppression,
domination and occupation shall be protected.
Warfare is inherently destructive of sustainable development. States
shall therefore respect international law providing protection for the
environment in times of armed conflict and cooperate in its further
development, as necessary.
Peace, development and environmental protection are interdependent and
States shall resolve all their environmental disputes peacefully and by
appropriate means in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.
States and people shall cooperate in good faith and in a spirit of
partnership in the fulfilment of the principles embodied in this Declaration
and in the further development of international law in the field of sustainable
* * * * *
a/ Report of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment,
Stockholm, 5-16 June 1972 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.73.II.A.14
and corrigendum), chap. I.
There are no others, there is only us.