Agenda 21 – Sustainable development for the 21st century

March 5, 2008

Agenda 21 cover image

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 human impacts on the environment.

Agenda 21 and eco-labels have a strong connection. Implementing eco-label schemes is one direct way that communities and organisations can contribute to Agenda 21. Although implementation of Agenda 21 is essentially voluntary at country level, some national and regional governments have passed laws or given advice that local authorities implement the plan locally, in programmes which have come to be known as Local Agenda 21 (or LA21).

As residents, consumers or tax payers, we can ask organisations and local authorities what they are doing towards Agenda 21.

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 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, after three years of development.

For more information on the bodies involved and progress, see the UN’s Agenda 21 site.

What surprised me about this site is that there hasn’t been a change to the front page since 2005. Has nothing of interest happened since then?

Agenda 21 has four sections, each dealing with specific areas of action, presented in this list, based on the 900-plus page document’s contents.

  1. Section I. Social and economic dimensions
    • International cooperation to accelerate sustainable development in developing countries and related domestic policies
    • Combating poverty
    • Changing consumption patterns
    • Demographic dynamics and sustainability
    • Protecting and promoting human health conditions
    • Promoting sustainable human settlement development
    • Integrating environment and development in decision-making
  2. Section II. Conservation and management of resources for development
    • Protection of the atmosphere
    • Integrated approach to the planning and management of land resources
    • Combating deforestation
    • Managing fragile ecosystems: combating desertification and drought
    • Managing fragile ecosystems: sustainable mountain development
    • Promoting sustainable agriculture and rural development
    • Conservation of biological diversity
    • Environmentally sound management of biotechnology
    • Protection of the oceans, all kinds of seas, including enclosed and semi-enclosed seas, and coastal areas and the protection, rational use and development of their living resources
    • Protection of the quality and supply of freshwater resources: application of integrated approaches to the development, management and use of water resources
    • Environmentally sound management of toxic chemicals, including prevention of illegal international traffic in toxic and dangerous products
    • Environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes, in hazardous wastes
    • Environmentally sound management of solid wastes and sewage-related issues
    • Safe and environmentally sound management of radioactive wastes
  3. Section III. Strengthening the role of major groups
    • Global action for women towards sustainable and equitable development
    • Children and youth in sustainable development
    • Recognizing and strengthening the role of indigenous people and their communities
    • Strengthening the role of non-governmental organizations: partners for sustainable development
    • Local authorities’ initiatives in support of Agenda 21
    • Strengthening the role of workers and their trade unions
    • Strengthening the role of business and industry
    • Scientific and technological community
    • Strengthening the role of farmers
  4. Section IV. Means of implementation
    • Financial resources and mechanisms
    • Transfer of environmentally sound technology, cooperation and capacity-building
    • Science for sustainable development
    • Promoting education, public awareness and training
    • National mechanisms and international cooperation for capacity-building in developing countries
    • International institutional arrangements
    • International legal instruments and mechanisms
    • Information for decision-making

This entry is related to the Infomancy Eco-Symbols Series.


One Response to “Agenda 21 – Sustainable development for the 21st century”

  1. regionswork Says:

    A link to this post will be in the March 12, 2008 issue of Regional Community Development News. It will be on-line March 13 at Please visit, check the tools and consider a link. Tom

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