In 1992, more than 100 heads of state met in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The Earth Summit, as UNCED was also known, was convened to address urgent problems of environmental protection and socio-economic development. The assembled leaders signed the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity; endorsed the Rio Declaration and the Forest Principles; and adopted Agenda 21, a 300-page plan for achieving sustainable development in the 21st century.
The Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD ) was formed in 1992 after the Earth Summit to ensure effective follow-up of UNCED, through monitoring and reporting on implementation of the Earth Summit agreements at the local, national, regional and international levels. Following the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in 2002, the CSD was also charged with providing policy guidance to follow up the Johannesburg Plan of implementation (JPOI).
The CSD meets annually. A five-year review of Earth Summit progress took place in 1997 by the United Nations General Assembly meeting in special session, followed in 2002 by a ten-year review by the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). Following discussion of the role of CSD at WSSD, the CSD agreed at its eleventh session in May 2003 that it will now function on the basis of two-year implementation cycles, including review and policy years. The review year will evaluate progress made in implementing sustainable development goals and identifying obstacles and constraints, while the policy year will decide on measures to speed up implementation and mobilize action to overcome these obstacles and constraints.
CSD11 agreed on a Program of Work based on the two-year cycles up until 2016/17. The CSD cycle in 2006/07 had themes of energy for sustainable development, industrial development, climate change, and atmosphere/air pollution. The next cycle in 2008/09 has the themes of agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification and Africa.
Agenda 21 is an international framework agreement for pursuing global sustainable development that was endorsed by national governments, including the Australian Government, at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Australia's commitment to Agenda 21 is reflected in a strong national response to meet our obligations under this international agreement. For example, all levels of government endorsed the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development in 1992.
A major outcome of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development was the 54-page agreement called the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI). The JPOI was designed as a framework for action to implement the commitments originally agreed at UNCED. The JPOI sets out priorities for action on sustainable development in areas as diverse as poverty eradication, health, trade, education, science and technology, regional concerns, natural resources, and the institutional arrangements.
The JPOI is divided into eleven chapters, each with its own specific focus. The 11 chapters are:
CSD reports by Australia identify national measures that contribute to our commitments under Agenda 21. Annual reporting occurred until 2002. Following the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), the CSD has reviewed reporting requirements by countries and decided to reduce the reporting burden on countries. Countries are now asked to provide national reports that reflect on progress made in the themes under consideration in each CSD cycle. In 2005, Australia provided a report on the status of Australia’s National Sustainable Development Strategy and a thematic profile on key Australian principles for climate change. Australian national information submitted to the CSD can be found on the CSD web site .
The CSD encourages Governments, Intergovernmental Organizations and Major Groups to submit sustainable development case studies detailing lessons learned from implementing sustainable development initiatives. At CSD 14, Australia published a number of fact sheets sharing our expertise in implementing best practice initiatives in the areas of energy for sustainable development, industrial development, air pollution/atmosphere and climate change.
A database of case studies submitted to the CSD by other countries, intergovernmental organisations and major groups can be found on the CSD web site