1972 : UN Summit in Stockholm on humans and the environment. A critical state of the planet is prepared and some scientists go so far as to recommend a stop of economic growth.
1987 : Publication of the report "Our Common Future" of the United Nations Commission on Environment and Development chaired by Mrs Gro Harlem Brundtland (hence the report that bears her name).
1989 : Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal.
June 1992 : United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. The first "Earth Summit" in Rio de Janeiro (178 countries represented by 110 Heads of State and Government, 2400 representatives of the international community) adopts the concept of sustainable development with different texts:
- The " Rio Convention" sets forth 27 principles that put the first human beings at the center of environmental and economic concerns.
- The "Agenda 21 " (or "Common Agenda for the 21st Century") is a program of actions for measures to be taken at the global level, covering all areas of sustainability, and lists a series of actions to be incorporated into national legislations as a priority in moving towards a sustainable development (social equity, economic efficiency, environmental viability).
- The "United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), or" climate change convention " , aims to fight against the increasing emissions of greenhouse gases to prevent dangerous development of the climate system.
- The "Convention on Biodiversity" is the backup of many plant and animal species threatened with extinction.
December 1997 : Kyoto (Japan) is a document signed by 180 countries to fight against climate change by international action to reduce emissions of certain greenhouse gases responsible for global warming, in this protocol, 38 countries undertake to reduce their industrial emissions of greenhouse gases between 2008 and 2012 to levels below 5.2% compared to 1990.
2000 : United Nations´ adoption of a Declaration on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by fixing the results to be achieved in eight priority areas:
- réduire la pauvreté extrême et la faim,
- assurer l´éducation primaire pour tous,
- promouvoir l´égalité des sexes et l´autonomisation des femmes,
- réduire la mortalité des enfants de moins de 5 ans,
- réduire de trois-quart la taux de mortalité maternelle,
- lutter contre le VIH-SIDA, le paludisme et la tuberculose,
- assurer un environnement durable,
- mettre en place un partenariat mondial pour le développement.
September 2007 : The second Earth Summit reaffirmed the concept of sustainable development as priority of States internationally and highlights a need to change patterns of production and consumption, a "Plan of Implementation of the World Sustainable Development "was adopted with the consideration of new guidelines on poverty, consumption and production, natural resources and health. The concept of "good governance" is also introduced in this Plan of Implementation. [Chap.I, art.4: "Good governance within each country and at international level is essential for sustainable development. At the local level, through the policies on environmental, social and economic, democratic institutions responsible for the needs of the population, regulatory laws, the fight against corruption, fairness man / woman and a stable environment for investment are the basis for sustainable development ".]
Décembre 2007 : The 13th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 3rd Meeting of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol held in Bali (Indonesia) from 3 to 15 December 2007. The adoption of a "Bali roadmap" allows the establishment of a negotiating process to lead, by the end of 2009, to an overall agreement on the regime to fight against climate change for the period opening after 2012.
Taking the form of a decision, the roadmap sets out topics to be addressed (including a shared vision of long-term global goal for emissions reductions, four negotiating blocs: mitigation, adaptation, technology, financing), a negotiating forum involving all parties (ad hoc convention), a rhythm of meetings (4 per year) and a deadline (2009).
The conference sets a reduction range of 25-40% in emissions by 2020 for developed countries (global emissions peak within 10-15 years) and a reduction of at least 50% by 2050. Forest degradation, which affects particularly forest exploitation in the Congo Basin, is integrated into the full scope of negotiation to come under pressure from the countries concerned and with the strong support of France.
All these related concepts contribute to use a broader definition of sustainable development as "development economically viable, environmentally sustainable and socially equitable within a framework of good governance."