Agenda 21

A blueprint for global
sustainable development

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."

The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) was held in Rio De Janeiro in 1992. Known as "The Earth Summit", the conference managed to reach accord on two international agreements, two statements of principles and a 'blueprint' for global sustainable development – Agenda 21.

The Preamble of Agenda 21 states "Humanity stands at a defining moment in history. We are confronted with a perpetuation of disparities between and within nations, a worsening of poverty, hunger, ill health and illiteracy, and the continuing deterioration of the ecosystems on which we depend for our well-being. However, integration of environment and development concerns and greater attention to them will lead to the fulfillment of basic needs, improved living standards for all, better protected and managed ecosystems and a safer, more prosperous future. No nation can achieve this on its own; but together we can - in a global partnership for sustainable development"


Agenda 21 information

  • Rio Declaration on Environment and Development
    Adopted by 179 Governments at the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, the Rio Declaration consists of 27 principles to guide sustainable development around the world.
    United Nations Environment Programme Rio Declaration
  • Agenda 21
    The Agenda 21 document online from the United Nations Division for Sustainable Development:
  • The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
    ...provides a plain language version Agenda 21 and the other Rio Agreements...

Also from UNCED...

  • Framework Convention on Climate Change

    Recognizing that the stability of the Earth's climatic system can be adversely affected by carbon dioxide and other green house gas emissions, the convention outlined an overall framework for intergovernmental efforts to tackle the challenge posed by climate change. More information at
    The subsequent Kyoto Protocol came into force on February 2005. This set binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Convention on Biological Diversity
    “...the Convention recognizes that biological diversity is about more than plants, animals and micro organisms and their ecosystems - it is about people and our need for food security, medicines, fresh air and water, shelter, and a clean and healthy environment in which to live”.
  • Forest Management: Statement of Principles on Forests
    Non-Legally Binding Authoritative Statement of Principles for a Global Consensus on the Management, Conservation and Sustainable Development of all Types of Forests

Agenda 21 associated information

Local Agenda 21 links

  • ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability
    ICLEI delivers a range of products, services and activities that document and transfer the experiences of local governments in achieving sustainable development, and provides tools to assist practitioners in the field.
  • Local Agenda 21 UK
    Provides a focus for young people's work relating to issues around LA 21. As well as providing a space for young people's websites, it aims to keep people informed on new intiatives and allow young people to express their concerns to local decision-makers.

Local Agenda 21 initiatives

  • Vision 21
    Working within Gloucestershire, Vision 21 supports local solutions to global issues of climate change and sustainability. Vision 21’s innovative work on community consultation in drawing up Gloucestershire’s Local Agenda 21 has received wide acclaim.
  • Water 21
    Water21, a department of Vision 21 Gloucestershire, is a facilitating framework of water experts and community groups working to assist with the global implementation of safe, economically viable and sustainable water management solutions. It promotes soft engineered, naturalistic, community led approaches that utilise grass roots, local knowledge.