is a programme run by the United Nations
(UN) related to sustainable development
. It is a comprehensive blueprint of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the UN, governments, and major groups in every area in which humans impact on the environment
. The number 21
refers to the 21st century.
Development of Agenda 21
The full text of Agenda 21 was revealed at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Earth Summit
), held in Rio de Janeiro
on June 14 1992
, where 179 governments voted to adopt the programme. The final text was the result of drafting, consultation and negotiation, beginning in 1989 and culminating at the two-week conference.
In 1997, the General Assembly
of the UN held a special session to appraise five years of progress on the implementation of Agenda 21 (Rio +5). The Assembly recognized progress as 'uneven' and identified key trends including increasing globalization
, widening inequalities in income and a continued deterioration of the global environment. A new General Assembly Resolution
(S-19/2) promised further action.
The Johannesburg Summit
The Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, agreed at the World Summit on Sustainable Development
(Earth Summit 2002
) affirmed UN commitment to 'full implementation' of Agenda 21, alongside achievement of the Millennium Development Goals
and other international agreements.
The Commission on Sustainable Development
acts as a high level forum on sustainable development and has acted as preparatory committee for summits and sessions on the implementation of Agenda 21.
The United Nations Division for Sustainable Development acts as the secretariat to the Commission and works 'within the context of' Agenda 21.
Implementation by member states remains essentially voluntary.
Structure and contents
There are 40 chapters in Agenda 21, divided into four sections. All told the document was over 900 pages:
Section I: Social and Economic Dimensions
including combating poverty, changing consumption patterns, population and demographic dynamics, promoting health, promoting sustainable settlement patterns and integrating environment and development into decision-making.
Section II: Conservation and Management of Resources for Development
including atmospheric protection, combating deforestation, protecting fragile environments, conservation of biological diversity (biodiversity), and control of pollution.
Section III: Strengthening the Role of Major Groups
including the roles of children and youth, women, NGOs, local authorities, business and workers.
Section IV: Means of Implementation
including science, technology transfer, education, international institutions and mechanisms and financial mechanisms.
Local Agenda 21
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 steps to implement the plan locally, as recommended in Chapter 28 of the document. Such programmes are often known as 'Local Agenda 21' or 'LA21'.