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Inequality and its management
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Life transitions and care in sibling-headed households affected by AIDS in Tanzania and Uganda
Making music in the global economy
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Rio+20: A global evaluation of sustainable development
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Rio+20: A global evaluation of sustainable development

November 2012

What progress has been made since the first Earth Summit in 1992?

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, more commonly known as the "Earth Summit", met in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Bringing together more than 178 governments, the Earth Summit’s main outcome was the adoption of Agenda 21 – an action plan for sustainable development.

A follow-up conference, known as "Rio+20", was held in June 2012, also in Rio de Janeiro. More than 190 nations took part in the formal session, whilst more than 50,000 representatives from civil society and business groups took part in a separate "People’s summit". This makes Rio+20 much larger than the original summit, however it has been heavily criticised for not being as decisive or ambitious.


This article addresses the main contributions of Rio+20 and the progress that has been made since the Earth Summit in 1992. It is of relevance to AS Level students in the following areas:

AQA A2 unit 3: Weather and Climate and Associated Hazards (Global climate change). Discusses the international response to global warming. Also touches on possible causes and effects

Edexcel AS unit 1, topic 1: World at Risk (Coping with climate change). Raises questions about the different players involved in making global decisions to deal with climate change

OCR AS unit F762: Managing Change in Human Environments (The energy issue). Tackles issues associate with energy use and economic development on a global scale

WJEC AS unit G1, theme 1: Investigating Climate Change. Addresses the strategies used to address climate change and evaluates the success of efforts to reduce climate change.

In the  Members' Area:

  • What progress and setbacks have occurred since the 1992 Earth Summit?
  • How can everyone in the world benefit from sustainable energy?
  • How do contributions to CO2 differ between countries globally?

Sign in to read the full article. If you are not already a member you can join us as a School Member or Young Geographer and access our vast library of educational articles.


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