Rio Retrospect: From Stockholm to Johannesburg
The WSSD will attempt to sustain the successful spirit of the UNCED by ensuring a balance between economic development, social development, and environmental protection as interdependent and mutually reinforcing components of sustainable development.
Source :  Green Korea Report
Amy Levine (GKU Volunteer)
The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), also known as Rio+10, taking place in Johannesburg, South Africa next year from September 2-6 marks the current culmination of a series of world summits organized by the United Nations (UN) to address international concerns. UN-organized world conventions addressing environmental issues began in 1972, discussions continued in 1987, 1992 and 1997, and characterize the current world landscape with preparations leading up to 2002.
The Stockholm, Sweden conference in 1972 conceptualized a human environment. A non-binding statement of principles came out of the convention "to inspire and guide the peoples of the world in the preservation and enhancement of the human environment." Principle 21, the most cited principle of the declaration and the eventual namesake of Agenda 21, holds a state responsible for actions within its own borders that cross over those borders and harm another state-it is currently non-binding international law. This conference also established the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), which is the primary international body that addresses global environmental problems.
In 1987 the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) developed the theme of sustainable development. The concept was defined as meeting "needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." The UN General Assembly endorsed this idea and asked the Secretary General to hold a conference for the purpose of taking stock of the global environment 20 years after the Stockholm conference. This conference would conceptualize the ideas of the environment and development and saw sustainable development as the reconciliation between the two.
Thus the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from June 3-14, 1992 was born. UNCED is also affectionately referred to as the Earth Summit and Rio. Leading up to the 1992 conference, there was much debate between "developed," mostly the North, and "developing," mostly the South, countries. The North wanted all countries to take measures to protect the environment, while the South saw this as those who had polluted on the way to development asking everyone to pay for their mistakes. Initially, the so-called "developing" countries refused to participate in UNCED unless "developed" countries transferred financial assistance and technology-with Japan's support, and despite the U.S.'s opposition, the "developing" countries prevailed. In 1989 Resolution 44/228 passed, which stated that "developed" countries bear the main responsibility for creating and combating pollution and that there is a need for technology transfer and to address financial assistance for "developing" countries.
Prepatory committees, or PrepComs, met five times leading up to the actual conference in June. When UNCED finally convened, almost all countries in the world were represented at 178 and more than 100 heads of state actually attended. In addition, more than 1,000 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) participated in sessions-at times as formal consultants. During the conference, world leaders signed five major instruments: the Rio declaration, Agenda 21, Framework Convention on Climate Change, Framework Convention on Biological Diversity, and Statement of Principles on Forests. All documents had already achieved consensus, except Agenda 21 in its then incomplete form, before arriving in Rio.
The WSSD will attempt to sustain the successful spirit of the UNCED by ensuring a balance between economic development, social development, and environmental protection as interdependent and mutually reinforcing components of sustainable development. Another main goal of the conference is to review Agenda 21 and assess its implementation. Preparations for this summit have inclusion of NGOs as a major goal. From September 2-6 a plenary will convene to discuss partnerships with NGOs as well as organizational issues and topics recommended by the Bureau of Prepatory Committee. In addition, the main committee will meet to consider outstanding issues related to documents. From September 9-11 the plenary will include heads of state and a short multi-stakeholder event. Roundtables during this time will participate in a general debate and organizational modalities will follow the Millennium General Assembly.
2001 / -1 / 0-