Environment, climate and sustainable development

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was established by the General Assembly in 1972. In 1988 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established and four years later the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), in 1992. The same year, 1992, the UN “Earth Summit” produced the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as a first step in addressing the climate change problem.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

According to the declaration from the United Nations first Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm in 1972, "Man has the fundamental right to freedom, equality and adequate conditions of life, in an environment of a quality that permits a life of dignity and well-being, and he bears a solemn responsibility to protect and improve the environment for present and future generations." 

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was established by the General Assembly in 1972.

Work of the UNEP

The United Nations Environment Programme has the following mission:

  • to advocate and promote sound environmental management for sustainable development
  • to coordinate United Nations environmental activities.

United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD)

Brundtland Report, also known as Our Common future, was published in 1987 by the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). The report introduced the concept of sustainable development and described how it could be achieved. It is a landmark document integrating protection of the environment with peace, security and development launching the principle of Environmentally Sustainable Development (ESD).

The United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) was established in 1992 to improve the UN activities in the field of environment and development.

INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL ON CLIMATE CHANGE (IPCC)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established in 1988 by WMO and the UNEP. The purpose was to assess scientific, technical and socio-economic research related to climate change.

IPCC reports are widely cited by the media and in the debate related to climate change.

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

In 1992, the UN “Earth Summit” produced the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as a first step in addressing the climate change problem. Today, 197 countries that have ratified the Convention are Parties to the Convention.

The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the supreme decision-making body of the Convention. All States that are Parties to the Convention are represented at the COP. The COP meets every year, unless the Parties decide otherwise: COP - Climate Change Conferences.

The ultimate aim of the Convention is to prevent “dangerous” human interference with the climate system.

Conferences on environment and sustainable development

The United Nations has organized major world conferences on the environment and sustainable development:

  1. The United Nation Conference on the Human Environment at Stockholm in 1972
  2. The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Nairobi in 1982
  3. The United Nations on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, in 1992
  4. Special Session ot the General Assembly to Review and Appraise the Implementation of Agenda 21 (Earth Summit +5), New York, 23-27 June 1997.
  5. Millennium Summit, 6-8 September 2000, New York
  6. The World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002
  7. The World Summit, 14-16 September 2005, New York
  8. The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development - Rio+20 in Rio de Janeiro in 2012
  9. Stockholm+50 : a healthy planet for the prosperity of all – our responsibility, our opportunity, 2-3 June 2022

More on environment and sustainable development

  1. Report of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, Stockholm 5-15 June 1972 is available as UN Sales no. E.73.II.A.14. A collection of sales number publications is held by the Dag Hammarskjöld Library, Uppsala, and the Libraries at UN Headquarters in New York and Geneva.
  2. Documents from the Stockholm Conference are posted on the UN website, section United Nations Environment Programme.
  3. Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, Rio de Janeiro, 3-14 June 1992 is available as UN document A/CONF.151/26 in the UN collection of the Dag Hammarskjöld Library, Uppsala, and the Libraries at UN Headquarters in New York and Geneva.
  4. The Plan of Action of the Rio Conference, Agenda 21. Environment and Development. Rio de Janeiro, 14 June 1992, and the Final Declaration, Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, are posted online at the UN website, section United Nations Environment Programme.
  5. Reports and documents from the Earth Summit +5 - Special Session of the General Assembly to Review and Appraise the Implementation of Agenda 21, New York, 23-27 June 1997, are posted at the UN website.
  6. Information about the World Summit on Sustainable Development with relevant full text documents is posted at Johannesburg Summit 2002.  
  7. Background information and documentation from the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali 2007 and from the United Nations Climate Conference in Poznan 2008 are posted at their websites.
  8. Full text reports and documents from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are posted at the IPCC website.
  9. Programme and statements from the Summit on Climate Change in New York 2009 can be accessed through the UN website.
  10. Reports and documents from the Copenhagen conference are posted at the the website UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen COP 15/CMP 5 7 to 18 December.
  11. The Copenhagen outcome document - The Copenhagen Accord -has been published as advance unedited version and draft text (pdf).
  12. Reports and documents from the Cancun conference 2010 are posted at UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun.
  13. Background information, reports and documents from the Rio+20conference are posted at its website. The outcome document The Future We Want can be accessed in all official UN languages.
Last modified: 2024-04-19