The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the "Earth Summit," was held at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 3-14 June 1992. This global conference, held on the 20th anniversary of the first international Conference on the Human Environment, (Stockholm, 1972), brought together policy makers, diplomats, scientists, media personnel and non-governmental organization (NGO) representatives from 179 countries in a massive effort to reconcile the impact of human socio-economic activities on the environment and vice versa.

A major achievement of UNCED was Agenda 21 a thorough and broad-ranging programme of actions demanding new ways of investing in our future to reach global sustainable development in the 21st century. Its recommendations ranged from new ways to educate, to new ways to care for natural resources, and new ways to participate in designing a sustainable economy. The overall ambition of Agenda 21 was breathtaking, for its goal was nothing less than to make a safe and just world in which all life has dignity and is celebrated.

A simultaneous "Global NGO Forum" was also held in Rio de Janeiro, which was attended by an unprecedented number of representatives from NGOs outlining their own vision of the future environmental and socio-economic/developmental state of the world.