Sustainable Development and Environment
The Earth Summits 1992 and 2002
Sustainable Development, a forward looking approach that integrates economic growth, social development and environmental protection, affects each individual in developed as well as in developing countries. The conservation of the natural environment is also one of the primary objectives of Austria’s bilateral development cooperation.
The Blueprint for Sustainable Development (Agenda 21) was agreed to at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro 1992 and reviewed and expanded 10 years later at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg (WSSD). This summit specifically sought to improve the implementation of Agenda 21 and generate initiatives that would deliver results and improve peoples lives while protecting the environment.
Among the WSSD summit’s major accomplishments are
- a universal reaffirmation of the commitment to the full implementation of Agenda 21 and the Millenium Development Goals,
- a strengthening of the concept of sustainable development and t
- the linkages between poverty, the environment and the use of natural resources as well as
- progress on issues not adequately handled at the Earth Summit such as energy and patterns of production and consumption.
Furthermore a new mechanism of international cooperation emerged: partnerships between governments, civil society and the private sector.
The priorities for action to achieve the goals and targets for sustainable development are laid out in the 54 page Johannesburg Plan of Implemention.
Among the many themes discussed at the WSSD Austria has taken a particular interest in the areas of sustainable energy, water, sustainable development of mountain areas, sustainable tourism and population issues. Based on its leadership in the area of sustainable energy in the UN in recent years Austria has particularly played a critical role in formulating the EU’s position for the WSSD on this topic.
While most implementation efforts take place at the local, national and regional levels the main responsibility for monitoring and reviewing progress on the international level is taken up by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). Austria is member of this commission and is taking a very active role in it.