The Future We Want





[quote]“If our growing population is going to survive on this planet, we need a smart design that maximizes resources, minimizes waste and serve people and communities”

–          Mr. Ban Ki Moon (UN Secretary General)[/quote]

The Rio +20 conference on sustainable development was considered to be the most important meeting in the human history. The activists although not so happy with the idea of sustainable development and denounce the current GREEN ECONOMY as a corporate shame. The kernel of the conference was making efforts to ensure sustainable development for the benefit of the present and future generations. It also targeted to secure renewed political commitments for the sustainable development and to access the new emerging challenges. The EU insisted RIO + 20 advocate a “green economy, a model of development that is less destructive to the planet. However the concept remained vague. But as considering the poor countries the concept of ‘green economy policies’ is left to each country in condition that it must not cause “ a disguised restriction on international trade[1]. Agreement was also reached was also reached on a text, the “ Earth Charter” or “Rio Declaration on Sustainable Development” that will form the basis for commitment by states to conference goals. While it will not establish any strict obligation, it will be morally binding on signatory States[2]. Throughout the discussion, sustainable development has been a key consideration. What is sustainable development[3]? It is seen as development that, meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations meets their needs. Industries countries degrade the environment by insatiable consumption of resources and intense production of waste, while high fertility and rapid population growth in many developing countries put damaging pressure on the planet. Combined such human demands are undermining the world’s natural resources base- land, water and air upon which all development depends. These issues are therefore, not only environmental but also economic. With a view to highlight these link, the U.N. conference on environment and development, which was originally scheduled to be held from 1 to 12 June, 1992, was held from 3rd June to 12 June 1992 at Rio de Janerio. The conference was funded by the UN and voluntary contributions[4].

This concept is expanded in the stated principle of the Rio Declaration. Human rights are said to be the centre of concerns for the sustainable development. The declaration was recognized as the need for indicators other than gross domestic product and UN statistical commission to draw up an overview on this subject. The conference seeks three objectives : securing renewed political commitment to sustainable development, assessing the progress and implementation gaps in  meeting already agreed commitments, and addressing new and emerging challenges, there were two main themes firstly green economy which majorly deals with the sustainable development and poverty eradication, and secondly, institutional framework for sustainable development. The authors mainly concentrate on the sustainability regarding the poverty eradication and Agenda 21.

As regards Bio- diversity convention, America took a very rigid stand from the beginning that it will not sign the convention. The aim of the bio- diversity convention is to preserve the vast gene pool of flora and fauna and make developed countries pay for exploiting it. America took such a rigid stand that even countries like Britain, Germany, Japan and European community distanced themselves from American stand with the result that America found itself isolated in this respect[5].




[quote]“Nevertheless, the concept of sustainable development is now known- even amongst those who haven’t accepted it – and it’s recognized, debated and followed by an increasing number of business.[6]

                                                             –. Maurice Strong (Secretary- General of the Conference)[/quote]


Many of the Chancellors, Presidents, Rectors, Deans and Leaders of Higher Education Institutions and related organization had acknowledged the responsibility that they bear in the international pursuits of sustainable development. On the occasion of the United nations conference on sustainable development, held in Rio De Janerio from 20-22 June 2012, the pact was agreed to support the following actions[7]:

Firstly, a declaration was made on the Teaching on sustainable development concept: ensuring that institutions form the part of the core curriculum and follow the discipline and help the future higher education graduates develop skills necessary to enter sustainable development workforces and have and create an understanding on how to achieve a society that values people, the planet and recognizes the profit of the infinite resources.

Secondly, the declaration announces Encouraging Research on Sustainable Development Issues: enhancing the scientific understanding through exchange of scientific and technological knowledge and creating awareness about the innovative technologies on sustainable development.

Thirdly, the Declaration discuss about the Green our Campuses by: adopting of sustainability in the supply chains and catering services, reducing in the foot print through energy, water and many more. It also concentrates on recycling and reuse and making the sustainable lifestyle.

Fourthly, the Declaration states that Sustainability Efforts in the Communities in which Reside: it states that working at local levels to raisin the levels of livelihood at civil society.

And lastly, the Declaration speaks on the Engage With and Share Results Through International Frameworks: the UN University system, the UN Academic Impact, the Global Compact, the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Management Education initiative and the UN Environment Programme? Environmental Education and Training initiatives, in order to exchange knowledge and experiences and to report regularly on progress and challenges.”



The “21” in Agenda 21 refers to 21st century. Presently a nation’s wealth is gauged by its financial standing, and the more money the better. Agenda 21 promotes the attitude that a nation’s wealth should also account for the full value of its natural resources. Agenda 21 also encourages nations to consider the costs of environmental degradation[8]. In addition, to reduce the risk of damage, environmental assessment should be carried out and where degradation does occur, those responsible should bear the costs. Agenda 21 is a voluntarily implemented actions plan of the United Nation with regards to sustainable development. Agenda 21 was intended to involve actions at international, national and regional and local levels. Many efforts have been made by the national as well as the state government to make legislature so that local authorities can take steps to implement the Moto of agenda 21 locally. Agenda 21 is a voluntarily implemented action plan of the United Nations with regard to sustainable development. Agenda 21 is a product if the UNCED (UN Conference on Environment and Development) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992. Underlying Agenda 21 notion that humanity has reached a defining moment in its history. Agenda 21 is mainly made too stop the deterioration of the ecosystem which is apparently causing increase in poverty, hunger, sickness and illiteracy on the world wide basis[9]. The United States has also well documented the reports on Agenda 21 reports[10].The conventions, Principles and Declaration of the Earth Summit, provide guidelines to deal with the problems of poverty, hunger, resource consumption and the deterioration of ecosystems. Agenda 21 provides a format for this to happen, detailing an action plan for sustainable development and establishing targets for actions that combine development and environmental protection. Agenda 21:

  • Is the blueprint for sustainability in the 21st century.
  • Provides options for combating the deterioration of land, air and water, whilst conserving habitats and their diversity.
  • Deals with poverty, over consumption, health and education.
  • Promotes roles for all. Everyone- governments, business, trade unions, scientists, teachers, indigenous people and youth- have roles to play in achieving sustainable development and should be involved in the decision making processes.
  • Encourages the reduction of environmentally and socially detrimental processes, but within a framework which allows economic success.

The Agenda can only be attained successfully when the living standards are improved. As stated by Mr. Maurice Strong (Secretary- General of the Conference)-


“Together we can in a global partnership for sustainable development.”

The PREAMBLE also states that 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 eco- system 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 the 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. So it clearly creates an impact that various problems prevailing can be irradiated by the means of sustainable development by approaching society at large.


Agenda 21 highlights the need to eradicate poverty. One of the major problems facing poorer nations is their lack of resources and ability to live sustainably. Developed nations have taken on the responsibilities of assisting poorer nations to reduce their environmental impacts and achieve sustainable development. Agenda 21 asks government to integrate sustainable development into their national strategies and highlights the importance of involving non- governmental organization (NGOs) and the public in the process. For sustainable development to work issues must be tackled on a local, national and international level and nations must work ‘towards international agreements which respect the interests of all and protect of all and protect the integrity of the global environmental and developmental system. The Rio 1992 summit rightly concluded that sustainable development can happen only if global poverty levels are dramatically reduced. One astounding fact from the UN studies is that on average, 115,000 people move each day from the rural areas of the poorer countries to their cities. This migration results in an apparent increase in income for the migrants but actually leads to increased poverty. At that meeting the nations were bound with the responsibility of poverty eradication irrespective of being there developed or not developed. Moreover, the measures outlined in the Rio 1992 declaration to check migration to cities by increased support to agriculture, development of rural industry, availability of electricity, better education and health care and the like have remained largely unimplemented. The overseas development assistance funds actually disbursed by the advances economies fall well short of the commitments they made. The stated reasons are that the programs for which money is allocated run behind schedule and institutional corruption squanders the funds disbursed. Since this contraction appears set to continue, the 2012 summit may not find any solution to this problem. The work availability is uncertain, the living conditions in urban slums clusters are also more prone to fire, flooding and other natural disaster. One of the commitments the global nations agreed to at Rio 1992 summit was unfettered access to markets was a key policy measure to reduce global income disparities. Many developing countries around the world have dismantled tariff barriers and import quotas in line with the spirit of the Rio 1992 agreement. The advanced economies, however, continue to protect their domestic agriculture production with subsidies and non-tariff restrictions like quality certification, tests for pesticide contamination and other restrictive measures. The total subsidy to agriculture in 2010 in the three major regions of North America, the European Union and Japan amounted to $376 billion. This money transferred to the poorest of the agrarian economies could have made a dramatic difference in those countries. Now it remains too been seen how good the management has been delivered by Rio 2012 on its new approach and endemic. Otherwise again it will end up being a pointless summit that ends as a collection of speeches made and paper read that makes no difference to the lives of the people, and more it will again hamper the growth of the developing countries. Even though not much can be expected from such world Summits yet they serve a significant object of highlighting the gravity and urgency of the problem. Due to great differences in attitudes and their way of fulfilling their commitments, the results of the Summit cannot at all be said to be encouraging[11].

Also Read:  Role of Center and State in River Water Sharing Disputes.



 The long term objective of enabling all people to achieve sustainable livelihood should provide an integrating factor that allows policies to address issues of development, sustainable resource management and poverty eradication simultaneously[12]. The objective of this programme area is:

  • To provide all person urgently with the opportunity to earn a sustainable livelihood.
  • to implement policies and strategies that promote adequate levels of funding and focus on integrated human development policies, including income generation, increased local control of resources local institution- strengthening and capacity- building and greater involvement of non- governmental organization and local levels of government as delivery mechanism.
  • To develop for all poverty- stricken areas integrated strategies and programmes of sound and sustainable management of the environment, resource mobilization, poverty eradication and alleviation employment and income generation.
  • to create a focus in national development plans and budgets on investment in human capital, with special policies and program directed at rural areas, the urban poor, women and children.


  • Poverty is a complex and multidimensional problem with origins in both national and international domains. There is no uniform solution found or global application. For the solution of the problem there is a need of systematic use of international efforts supporting national efforts. This will also help in creating a supportive international environment for tackling poverty.
  • In the process of the creating environmental policy the main focus should be on the conservation and protection of resourced and account should be maintained of how many people depend on the resources as their livelihoods. Otherwise it could create have an adverse effect both on poverty and on chance for long term success in resource and environmental conservation.  So major impact should be on the increasing the production of goods without addressing the sustainability o the resources on which production is based will sooner or later run into declining productivity, which could also have an adverse impact on poverty. So there is a need of specific anti- poverty strategy I therefore one of the basic conditions for ensuring sustainable development. There is a need of effective strategy for tackling the problems of poverty, development and environment simultaneously should begin by focusing on resources, production and people and should cover demographic issues, enhanced health care and education, the rights of women, the role of youth and of indigenous people and local communities and a democratic participation process in association with improved governance.
  • Integral to such action is, together with international support, the promotion of economic growth in developing countries that is both sustained and sustainable and direct action in eradicating poverty by strengthening employment and income- generating programmes.


Sustainable development must be achieved at every level of society. Peoples’ organization, women’s group and non- governmental organization are important source of innovation and action at the local level and have a strong interest and proven ability to promote sustainable livelihoods. Governments, in cooperation’s with appropriate international and non- governmental organizations should support  a community- driven approach to sustainability which would include inter alia:

  1. Empowering women through full participation in decision-making;
  2.  Respecting the cultural integrity and the rights of indigenous people and their communities;
  3. Promoting or establishing grass-roots mechanisms to allow for the sharing of experience and knowledge between communities;
  4. Giving communities a large measure of participation in the sustainable management and protection of the local natural resources in order to enhance their productive capacity;
  5. Establishing a network of community-based learning centres for capacity-building and sustainable development.



Twenty years after the Earth Summit, Agenda 21 retains strong relevance, and remains the most comprehensive undertaking by the UN system to promote sustainable development. While there are some gaps in coverage, the issues that humanity is struggling with now are more or less similar those covered amongst nation stated, its implementation remains far from universal or effective. Progress has been patchy, and despite some elements of good practice most Agenda 21 outcomes have still not been realized. The implementation of Agenda 21 was intended to involve action at international, national, regional and local levels. Some national and state governments have legislated or advised that local authorities take step to implement the plan locally, as recommended in chapter 28 of the document. These programs are often known as “Local Agenda 21” or ‘LA 21” . In other countries, opposition to Agenda 21’s ideas has surfaced to varied extents. In some cases, opposition has been legislated into several States limiting or forbidding the participation and/ or funding of local activities that support Agenda21 14.


[1] E:\Rio + 20 Conference in 2012 and UN Sustainable Development FIRST PARA ADD.mht
[2] U.N.C., Vol. XXVIII, No.4 (December 1991), p.65
[3] E:\FAQ ICLEI, the United Nations, and Agenda 21 — ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability USA#what-is-agenda-21.htm.
[4] U.N.C., Vol. XXIX, No. 1 (March 1192), p. 81
[5] See U.N.C., Vol. XXVIII, No.2 (JUNE, 1991),p. 56
[6] See U.N.C., Vol. XXVII, No. 4 ( December, 1990), p. 63
[7] International Law & Human Rights, Author (Dr. S.K. Kapoor), Edition 18th, Central Law Agency.
[8] The Future of International Environmental Law, Author (David Leary and Balakrishna Pisupati), United Nation University Press.
[9] E:\Earth Summit 2012 History.htm
[10] Agenda -21, United States.
[11] See also Mohammed Hussain K.S., “ World Summit on Sustainable Development, Johannesberg.  An Appraisal”, I JIL Vol. 2 No. 3 (2002), p. 348
[12] M:\Agenda 21 - Chapter 7 Promoting Sustainable Human Settlement Development, Earth Summit, 1992.htm
[13] Manchester Meterpolitian University
[14] Newman, Alex (4 June 2012). "Alabama Adopts First Official State Ban on UN Agenda 21". The New American. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
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