The Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro was unprecedented for a UN conference, in terms of both its size and the scope of its concerns. Twenty years after the first global environment conference, the UN sought to help Governments rethink economic development and find ways to halt the destruction of irreplaceable natural resources and pollution of the planet. Hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life were drawn into the Rio process. They persuaded their leaders to go to Rio and join other nations in making the difficult decisions needed to ensure a healthy planet for generations to come.

Summit’s message — that nothing less than a transformation of our attitudes and behaviour would bring about the necessary changes — was transmitted by almost 10,000 on-site journalists and heard by millions around the world. The message reflected the complexity of the problems facing us: that poverty as well as excessive consumption by affluent populations place damaging stress on the environment. Governments recognized the need to redirect efficiency a guiding principle for business and governments alike. Patterns of production — particularly the production of toxic components, such as lead in gasoline, or poisonous waste — are being scrutinized in a systematic manner by the UN and Governments alike; Alternative sources of energy are being sought to replace the use of fossil fuels which are linked to global climate change; New reliance on public transportation systems is being emphasized in order to reduce vehicle emissions, congestion in cities and the health problems caused by polluted air and smog; There is much greater awareness of and concern over the growing scarcity of water

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