United Nations Conference on Environment and Development

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

United Nations Conference on Environment and Development

United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) or Earth Summit, an 11-day meeting held in June, 1992, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to discuss the global conflict between economic development and environmental protection. Representatives of 172 nations agreed to work toward the sustainable development of the planet, although most of the agreements were not legally binding. Sustainable development is the growth of population, industry, and agriculture in a way that will allow the present generation to meet its own needs without damaging those of future generations. Two binding declarations–to minimize global climate change (see global warming) and to stem the depletion of the world's inventory of biological diversity were signed by more than 150 countries at the conference, with others expected to sign later. Other documents concerned the financing of environmental and forest protection, technology transfer, and such diverse subjects as desertification and atmospheric pollution; the responsibilities and rights of nations in development-environment issues; and the sustainable management of the earth's forests.

See acid rain; air pollution; conservation of natural resources; ecology; environmentalism; pollution; solid waste; toxic waste; water pollution.

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