Agenda 21(PDF) articulated a comprehensive plan of action towards sustainable development. It contains 40 chapters, which can be divided into four main areas:
1) social and economic issues, such as poverty, human health and population;
2) conservation and management of natural resources including the atmosphere, forests, biological diversity, wastes and toxic chemicals;
3) the role of nine major groups in implementing the sustainable development agenda (local authorities, women, farmers, children and youth, indigenous peoples, workers and trade unions, NGOs, the scientific and technological community, and
business and industry); and
4) means of implementation, including technology transfer, financing, science, education and public information.
Embedded in these four main areas of Agenda 21 are the environmental challenges, as well as the broad governance issues highlighted in the Brundtland Commission report (PDF).
As the blueprint for sustainable development, Agenda 21 remains the most significant non-binding instrument in the environmental field (UNEP 2002).
Principle 1 of Agenda 21
“Human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development. They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.”