Rio+20 and Sustainable Development: 12 Things to Know

Article | 22 May 2012

The Rio+20 Conference will take place in June to mark the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. Here are 12 things to know about sustainable development.

  1. The International Union for the Protection of Nature was founded 1948 as the world's first global environmental organization. It was renamed as the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) in 1956.
    Source: IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources
  2. In 1971, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) established the Man and the Biosphere Programme to promote interdisciplinary approaches to management, research and education in ecosystem conservation, and sustainable use of natural resources.
    Source: UNESCO Chronology of the Man and the Biosphere programme (MAB)
  3. The 1979 World Climate Conference was one of the first major international meetings on climate change. It concluded that the "greenhouse effect" from increased buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere demands urgent international action.
    Source: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
  4. The term "sustainable development" was first introduced into the international policy debate by the World Conservation Strategy in 1980. In 1991, IUCN, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the World Wide Fund for Nature published Caring for the Earth: A Strategy for Sustainable Living as a sequel to the Strategy, setting forth 132 actions to increase human well-being and halt the destruction of the earth's capacity to support life.
    Source: IUCN
  5. The Antarctic ozone hole was discovered in 1985. Two years later, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was adopted.
    Source: UNEP Ozone Secretariat
  6. The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992. Key agreements on the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Framework Convention on Climate Change were reached.
    Source: UNCED Earth Summit
  7. The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministerial Meeting on Sustainable Development was held in Manila in 1996. The Manila Declaration and an Action Program covered key areas for cooperation on sustainable cities, cleaner production and technologies, and the sustainability of the marine environment.
    Source: 8th APEC Ministerial Meeting, Manila, Philippines
  8. The global sustainability index was launched in 1999. The Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes are the first global indexes tracking the financial performance of the leading sustainability-driven companies worldwide.
    Source: DJ Sustainability Indexes
  9. In 2001, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) signed a memorandum of understanding toward the sustainable management of natural resources in Asia and the Pacific.
    Source: WWF and ADB: Two Heads are Better than One
  10. The Kyoto Protocol entered into force in 2005, legally binding developed country parties to goals for greenhouse gas emission reductions and establishing the Clean Development Mechanism for developing countries.
    Source: UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
  11. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) unveiled the Energy Efficiency Initiative in 2005. The initiative has evolved into the Clean Energy Program and focuses on supporting clean energy and facilitating the adoption of low carbon technologies through the region. A year later, ADB launched the Carbon Market Program to promote investments in greenhouse gas mitigation.
    Source: ADB Greening Growth in Asia and the Pacific, ADB Carbon Market Program
  12. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its fourth assessment report on climate change in 2007. The report suggests that climate change policies are best addressed by integrating them within the broader framework of sustainable development strategies.
    Source: IPCC