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Chapter 1. Preamble
1.1. 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 ecosystems on
which we depend for our well-being. However, integration of environment and development
concerns and greater attention to them will lead to the fulfilment of 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.
1.2. This global partnership must build on the premises of General
Assembly resolution 44/228 of 22 December 1989, which was adopted when the nations of the
world called for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, and on the
acceptance of the need to take a balanced and integrated approach to environment and
1.3. Agenda 21 addresses the pressing problems of today and also aims at
preparing the world for the challenges of the next century. It reflects a global consensus
and political commitment at the highest level on development and environment cooperation.
Its successful implementation is first and foremost the responsibility of Governments. 1/
National strategies, plans, policies and processes are crucial in achieving this.
International cooperation should support and supplement such national efforts. In this
context, the United Nations system has a key role to play. Other international, regional
and subregional organizations are also called upon to contribute to this effort. The
broadest public participation and the active involvement of the non-governmental
organizations and other groups should also be encouraged.
1.4. The developmental and environmental objectives of Agenda 21 will
require a substantial flow of new and additional financial resources to developing
countries, in order to cover the incremental costs for the actions they have to undertake
to deal with global environmental problems and to accelerate sustainable development.
Financial resources are also required for strengthening the capacity of international
institutions for the implementation of Agenda 21. An indicative order of magnitude
assessment of costs is included in each of the programme areas. This assessment will need
to be examined and refined by the relevant implementing agencies and organizations.
1.5. In the implementation of the relevant programme areas identified in
Agenda 21, special attention should be given to the particular circumstances facing the
economies in transition. It must also be recognized that these countries are facing
unprecedented challenges in transforming their economies, in some cases in the midst of
considerable social and political tension.
1.6. The programme areas that constitute Agenda 21 are described in terms
of the basis for action, objectives, activities and means of implementation. Agenda 21 is
a dynamic programme. It will be carried out by the various actors according to the
different situations, capacities and priorities of countries and in full respect of all
the principles contained in the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. It could
evolve over time in the light of changing needs and circumstances. This process marks the
beginning of a new global partnership for sustainable development.
1.7. Throughout Agenda 21 the term "environmentally sound" means
"environmentally safe and sound", in particular when applied to the terms
"energy sources", "energy supplies", "energy systems", or
1/ When the term Governments is used, it will be deemed to include the
European Economic Community within its areas of competence.
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