The long, steep drop from Rio

By Michael Berkman

The 1992 Rio Earth Summit was a watershed moment in global environmental governance — yet today our weather maps need new colours to illustrate our climate's warming. What happened?

The Rio Declaration, the Convention on Biological Diversity and Agenda 21 that flowed from the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 seem to me to have represented genuine recognition from nations across the globe that governance structures everywhere had failed to impose sustainable limits to development, which represented a genuine threat to earth systems and global biodiversity.

Here in Australia, this global impetus was reflected in the endorsement by COAG of the National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development in 1992, and a slew of environmental regulation from Governments in every jurisdiction in the following years — the environment movement was given not only cause for hope, but also some legislative teeth.

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