The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development
Human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development.
They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with
States have, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the
principles of international law, the sovereign right to exploit their own
resources pursuant to their own environmental and developmental policies,
and the responsibility to ensure that activities within their
jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment of other
States or of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.
The right to development must be fulfilled so as to equitably meet
developmental and environmental needs of present and future generations.
In order to achieve sustainable development, environmental protection
shall constitute an integral part of the development process and cannot
be considered in isolation from it.
All States and all people shall cooperate in the essential task of
eradicating poverty as an indispensable requirement for sustainable
development, in order to decrease the disparities in standards of living
and better meet the needs of the majority of the people of the world.
The special situation and needs of developing countries, particularly the
least developed and those most environmentally vulnerable, shall be given
special priority. International actions in the field of environment and
development should also address the interests and needs of all countries.
States shall cooperate in a spirit of global partnership to conserve,
protect and restore the health and integrity of the Earth’s ecosystem.
In view of the different contributions to global environmental
degradation, States have common but differentiated responsibilities. The
developed countries acknowledge the responsibility that they bear in the
international pursuit of sustainable development in view of the pressures
their societies place on the global environment and of the technologies
and financial resources they command.
To achieve sustainable development and a higher quality of life for all
people, States should reduce and eliminate unsustainable patterns of
production and consumption and promote appropriate demographic policies.
States should cooperate to strengthen endogenous capacity-building for
sustainable development by improving scientific understanding through
exchanges of scientific and technological knowledge, and by enhancing the
development, adaptation, diffusion and transfer of technologies,
including new and innovative technologies.
Environmental issues are best handled with the participation of all
concerned citizens, at the relevant level. At the national level, each
individual shall have appropriate access to information concerning the
environment that is held by public authorities, including information on
hazardous materials and activities in their communities, and the
opportunity to participate in decision-making processes. States shall
facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making
information widely available. Effective access to judicial and
administrative proceedings, including redress and remedy, shall be
States shall enact effective environmental legislation. Environmental
standards, management objectives and priorities should reflect the
environmental and developmental context to which they apply. Standards
applied by some countries may be inappropriate and of unwarranted
economic and social cost to other countries, in particular developing
States should cooperate to promote a supportive and open international
economic system that would lead to economic growth and sustainable
development in all countries, to better address the problems of
environmental degradation. Trade policy measures for environmental
purposes should not constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable
discrimination or a disguised restriction on international trade.
Unilateral actions to deal with environmental challenges outside the
jurisdiction of the importing country should be avoided. Environmental
measures addressing transboundary or global environmental problems
should, as far as possible, be based on an international consensus.
States shall develop national law regarding liability and compensation
for the victims of pollution and other environmental damage. States
shall also cooperate in an expeditious and more determined manner to
develop further international law regarding liability and compensation
for adverse effects of environmental damage caused by activities within
their jurisdiction or control to areas beyond their jurisdiction.
States should effectively cooperate to discourage or prevent the
relocation and transfer to other States of any activities and substances
that cause severe environmental degradation or are found to be harmful to
In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be
widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there
are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific
certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective
measures to prevent environmental degradation.
National authorities should endeavour to promote the internalization of
environmental costs and the use of economic instruments, taking into
account the approach that the polluter should, in principle, bear the
cost of pollution, with due regard to the public interest and without
distorting international trade and investment.
Environmental impact assessment, as a national instrument, shall be
undertaken for proposed activities that are likely to have a significant
adverse impact on the environment and are subject to a decision of a
competent national authority.
States shall immediately notify other States of any natural disasters or
other emergencies that are likely to produce sudden harmful effects on
the environment of those States. Every effort shall be made by the
international community to help States so afflicted.
States shall provide prior and timely notification and relevant
information to potentially affected States on activities that may have a
significant adverse transboundary environmental effect and shall consult
with those States at an early stage and in good faith.
Women have a vital role in environmental management and development.
Their full participation is therefore essential to achieve sustainable
The creativity, ideals and courage of the youth of the world should be
mobilized to forge a global partnership in order to achieve sustainable
development and ensure a better future for all.
Indigenous people and their communities, and other local communities,
have a vital role in environmental management and development because of
their knowledge and traditional practices. States should recognize and
duly support their identity, culture and interests and enable their
effective participation in the achievement of sustainable development.
The environment and natural resources of people under oppression,
domination and occupation shall be protected.
Warfare is inherently destructive of sustainable development. States
shall therefore respect international law providing protection for the
environment in times of armed conflict and cooperate in its further
development, as necessary.
Peace, development and environmental protection are interdependent and
States shall resolve all their environmental disputes peacefully and by
appropriate means in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations .
States and people shall cooperate in good faith and in a spirit of
partnership in the fulfilment of the principles embodied in this
Declaration and in the further development of international law in the
field of sustainable development.
References and Further Reading
About the Author/s and Reviewer/s