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Transition to the Age of Sustainable Development

Perelet R.A.

In June 1972, Stockholm (Sweden) hosted the UN Conference on the Human Environment with decisions that became a historical ones for the entire Humankind. During the conference, participants reported the need to develop a stringent environmental procedures to prevent the deterioration of natural habitats. The conference participants made a statement (Declaration of 26 principles ), adopted the Action Act for the Human Environment, which included 109 recommendations, as well as a recommendation for the General Assembly of the UN on the development of a special UN Environment Program. In addition, this conference resulted in the establishment of a voluntary Environment Fund and declared a World's Environmental Day (June 5). Stockholm's Declaration on the Human Environment and the general principles it included, encompassed the range of "flexible laws" of international environmental activities. The Conference approved a historical rules on the right of people to live in "the environment of a quality that permits a life of dignity and well-being".

About 10 years after the Stockholm's Conference, new ideas on sustainable human development began to appear . The first international document, that mentioned the notion of sustainable development, was the World Conservation Strategy (IUCN) . The second "edition" of this Strategy was termed "Caring for the Earth - A Strategy for Sustainable Living" and published in October 1991. At this time it was stressed, that the sustainable development should be based on overall protection of natural habitats, and should preserve the structure, functioning and diversity of nature ecosystems - home for plethora of biological species. Several steps are required for this type of activity - preservation of life support systems, conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable (non-depleting) utilization of renewable resources.

Later on, the idea of sustainable development was considered as a work plan for the United Nation's World Commission on Sustainable Development (1984-1987). Its report "Our Common Future" (the Russian edition appeared in 1989) stressed the need for transition to sustainable (non-depleting, self-sufficient and not self-destructing) development and provided its basic definition, widely used till present time. The term "sustainable" is related to such development, which satisfies the current needs without destroying the abilities of future generations to fulfill their demands. Subsequently, over hundred additional definitions have appeared, including those with non-reducible with time national wealth etc.

In 1992 - 20 years after the Stockholm Conference - another UN Summit on Environment and Development was held in Brazil (Rio de Janeiro), with participation of 17 000 people from 178 counties. The Conference endorsed two main documents - "The Rio Declaration" and "Goals for the 21st century" - which were the basic work agenda to establish the ecologically sustainable development. Besides, two additional global environmental conventions were approved by the summit participants - "The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change" and "The Convention on Biological Diversity" as well as Non-legally Binding Authoritative Statement of Principles for a Global Consensus on the Management, Conservation and Sustainable Development for All Types of Forests.

The concept of sustainable development, which solidified the multifarious interests of the World Community, formed the basis for these programs. The summit of the non-government organizations took place simultaneously with the inter-governmental meetings. Non-government organizations approved a number of "open documents" - 46 alternative treaties in 7 areas, such as declarations and general principles (including the project of the Earth Charter, People's Earth Declaration), education, communications and cooperation; alternative economic issues; consumption, poverty, food and subsistence; climate, energy and wastes; land and natural recourses, marine and ocean issues; biodiversity and biotechnology and cross-sectoral issues (the issues of youth, women, children, racism, militarism etc.).

Between the summits in Rio-de-Janeiro and Johannesburg, the UN supervised and organized several special international conferences dealing with issues of the World development, including the World Conference on Human Rights (Vienna, 1993), the World Summit for Social Development (Copenhagen, 1993,), the International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, 1994), the UN World Conference on Women: Action for Equality, Development and Peace (Beijing, 1995), the UN Conference on Human Settlements - "Habitat II" (Istanbul, 1996), the International Conference on Financing for Development (Doha, 2000), The Ministerial Conference on International Trade of the WTO. The UN activities dedicated to the new millenium, including the approval of the Millenium Declaration

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