The Johannesburg Plan of Implementation – promoting sustainability

Ten years after the Rio Conference, the international community reaffirmed its commitment to sustainability at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002.

Developing and industrialised countries agreed "to advance and strengthen the interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars of sustainable development – economic development, social development and environmental protection – at the local, national, regional and global levels".
Participants also adopted a Plan of Implementation that reaffirmed the goals set out in the Millennium Declaration.

At the World Summit in Johannesburg, Germany was a strong supporter of sustainable development and global poverty reduction. It consistently advocated setting ambitious goals, especially in the fields of energy and water.

The World Summit was followed with keen interest by the general public in Germany. The success of the Johannesburg conference cannot only be measured against the agreements reached by governments and the commitments they contain. Its political impact is also to a decisive degree dependent on actors who were not part of the official negotiating groups. Many new initiatives, networks and alliances were established in connection with the summit – and are still going strong.

In June 2012, the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development was held in Rio de Janeiro. At the conference, participants renewed their political commitment to the principle of sustainability. Poverty reduction and environmental protection are not opposites. Rather, they are closely interlinked.

Even though the German government and the EU did by far not manage to achieve all their goals at the conference, important decisions were taken at Rio+20.

In the final document entitled "The Future We Want", the international community committed itself to the concept of a "green economy" for the first time. The underlying idea is to make economic growth environmentally and socially compatible. However, Rio+20 failed to define measurable, timebound objectives.

Participants decided to draft proposals for universal Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs were unveiled in July 2014. They have been integrated in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

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