Agenda 21

Translated from French to English

Chapter 1


1.1 Humanity finds itself in a crucial moment of its history. We are currently witnessing the perpetuation of disparities between nations and within nations, of the aggravation of poverty, hunger, the state of health and illiteracy, and the ongoing deterioration of ecosystems on which we depend for our well-being. But if we integrate environmental and developmental questions and if we give greater attention to these questions, we will be able to satisfy the fundamental needs, improve the quality of life for all, better protect and better deal with the ecosystems and ensure a safer and more prosperous future. No country can do all this on its own, but the task is possible if we work together within the frame of a global partnership for sustainable development.

1.2 This global partnership must be founded on the premises of resolution 44/228 of the general assembly, in date of December 22nd, 1989, which was adopted when the world nations asked for the call of the United Nations conference on environment and development, and on the agreed necessity of an approach balanced and integrated to environmental and developmental issues.

1.3 Action 21 addresses today’s urgent issues and is also aiming at preparing the world for the upcoming tasks of the next century. It is a program that reflects a global consensus and a political commitment at the highest level on cooperation in terms of development and environment. The right application of Action 21 is the first and most important responsibility of governments. The national strategies, plans, policies, and processes are vital to do so. International cooperation must support and complete national efforts. In this context, the United Nations’ system has an essential role to play. Other international, regional and sub regional organisations will also have to contribute to this effort. Likewise, it is necessary to encourage the widest possible participation of the public and the active contribution of non-governmental organisations and other groups.

1.4 The objectives of Action 21 in terms of development and environment will need a substantial contribution of financial resources, new and additional to the developing countries to cover the rise of spendings due to the measures they’ll have to take to solve global scale ecological problems and hasten sustainable development. Financial resources are also necessary to reinforce international institutions’ capacity to implement Action 21. For information, we give an evaluation of the magnitude of the costs for each activity field. This evaluation will have to be examined and refined by the interested executing institutions and organisations.

1.5 By implementing relevant activity domain defined in Action 21, it is important to have a special focus on the situations of countries which economies are transitioning. Acknowledgment needs to be made that by transforming their economy, these countries must sometimes face enormous difficulties in a climate of strong social and political tension.

1.6 The description of the fields of action that constitute Action 21 is presented within the following sections: principles of action, activities and means of execution. Action 21 is a dynamic program. It will be led by diverse actors depending on the situations, the capacities and different priorities of the countries and regions with a strict respect of all the principles of the Declaration of Rio on environment and development. It may evolve with time and depending on the needs and circumstances. This process marks the birth of a new global partnership for sustainable development.