Agenda 21 is a non-binding, voluntarily implemented action plan of the United Nations with regard to sustainable development which came into existence at the United Nations Conference on Environment & Development Rio de Janerio, Brazil, held in June 1992. Agenda 21 addresses the development of societies and economies by focusing on the conservation and preservation of our environments and natural resources. Agenda 21 is composed of 40 chapters that identify each challenge and propose simple realistic solutions towards sustainable development which is: meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
The Preamble to the Agenda 21 states: “We are confronted with a perpetuation of disparities between and within nations, a worsening of poverty, hunger, ill health and illiteracy, and the continuing deterioration of the ecosystems on which we depend for our well-being.
However, integration of environment and development concerns and greater attention to them will lead to the fulfilment of basic needs, improved living standards for all, better protected and managed ecosystems and a safer, more prosperous future. No nation can achieve this on its own; but together we can in a global partnership for sustainable development”. Agenda 21 also calls for substantial flow of new and additional financial resources to developing countries, in order to cover the incremental costs for the actions they have to undertake to deal with global environmental problems and to accelerate sustainable development. Non-Aligned Movement is committed to the achieving the goals of Agenda 21 for sustainable development in an integrated and balanced manner of its three pillars: economic development, including sustained and inclusive growth, social development and protection of the environment. The 17th NAM Summit in Venezuela 2016 called on the need for undertaking concrete actions and measures at all levels for the full implementation of Agenda 21.
A number of NAM Member States have developed national strategies for implementing Agenda 21. Broadly, these strategies can be classified into four main heads: thematic policies that articulate broad sustainable development objectives; traditional master plans based on national planning cycles; mechanisms for coordination with donors; and strategies to address international obligations to integrate environmental considerations into thematic activities. One such example is the African Sustainable Cities Network (ASCN) that aims to build the capacity of local governments to institute participatory environmental planning as an integrated function of public administration.
India, a prominent NAM Member States has undertaken a series of initiatives towards the effective realisation of the goals of Agenda 21. Government of India has formulated legislation, regulations and policy instruments to address matters concerning cooperation for Sustainable Development at sub-regional, regional and International level. India is signatory to various regional and international agreements, which provide financial assistance for development cooperation. Government of India has made public hearings mandatory for developmental projects wherein affected person, stakeholders are given opportunity of hearing/discussion before arriving at a decision. Public participation is also an important step in every major decision for social, economic and sustainable development. Participation is encouraged by bringing in transparency in decision making. Major groups which participate in international cooperation activities programmes are indigenous groups, NGOs, Industrial Associates, Investigators, Research Institutions, Advocates, etc. The Government facilitate the participation of various groups in arriving at a decision in a more participatory manner.
In order to realise the Agenda 21 goals for sustainable developments, NAM has need for a strengthened and scaled-up global partnership for development, based on the recognition of national leadership and ownership of development strategies. The Movement emphasizes that international cooperation must be enhanced, including fulfilment of commitments of internationally agreed official development assistance, debt relief, market access, capacity building and technical support, including technology transfer. As part of NAM’s vision, its member states have made efforts to promote the integration of all three components of sustainable development that is economic development, social development and environmental protection, as interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars, in an integrated, coordinated and balanced manner.