The World Summit on Sustainable Development, WSSD or Earth Summit 2002 took place in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 26 August to 4 September 2002. It was convened to discuss sustainable development by the United Nations. WSSD gathered a number of leaders from business and non-governmental organizations, 10 years after the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. It was therefore also informally nicknamed "Rio+10".


There was a sense of dissapointment over the failure of governments to implement the resolutions of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio and take serious action to deal with environmental problem. Political pressure grew to hold a review of the progress made after the Earth Summit. The date was set for 2002, Rio+10.

Maurice Strong, appointed as Special Advisor to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, remained active in the environmetal field.

Swedish Ambassador Lars-Goran Engfeldt, in his publication "From Stockholm to Johannesburg and Beyond", writes, that Maurice Strong "advocated building upto the summit with a bottom-up approach and active praticipation of the civil society, with the formal intergovernmental negotiations, starting at a later stage. He felt that this would improve prospects for the success of the negotiations.

"He also suggested that the governments of Sweden and Brazil convene events in June 2002 to signify Rio+10's close connection to the preceeding Stockholm and Rio Conferences. In that slogan, he coined "30/10", signifying that thirty years has passed since Stockholm and 10m years since Rio.

"His aim was to remind present day leaders and negotiators that there had been strong agenda continuity since Stockholm."

The Johannesburg Summit

Johannesburg Summit 2002 – the World Summit on Sustainable Development – brought together tens of thousands of participants, including heads of State and Government, national delegates and leaders from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), businesses and other major groups to focus the world's attention and direct action toward meeting difficult challenges, including improving people's lives and conserving our natural resources in a world that is growing in population, with ever-increasing demands for food, water, shelter, sanitation, energy, health services and economic security.

Venue and date

The Summit took place in Johannesburg, South Africa from 26 August to 4 September 2002. The Summit was held in the Sandton Convention Centre, just outside Johannesburg. A non-governmental forum took place at the nearby NASREC Centre and numerous other parallel events also took place around Johannesburg at the same time.


In addition to governments, there was active participation at the Summit by representatives from business and industry, children and youth, farmers, indigenous people, local authorities, non-governmental organizations, scientific and technological communities, women and workers and trade unions. These represented the Major Groups identified in Agenda 21.


The tenth session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (known as CSD10) acted as the Preparatory Committee for the Summit which was the central organising body. CSD10 had four preparatory meetings for the Summit during 2001-2002, known as PrepComs.

The Johannesburg Declaration    

The Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development[1]  was adopted at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), sometimes referred to as Earth Summit 2002, at which the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development[2]  was also agreed upon.

The Johannesburg Declaration builds on earlier declarations made at the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment[3] at Stockholm in 1972, and the Earth Summit[4] in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. While committing the nations of the world to sustainable development, it also includes substantial mention of multilateralism as the path forward.

In terms of the political commitment of parties, the Declaration is a more general statement than the Rio Declaration. It is an agreement to focus particularly on "the worldwide conditions that pose severe threats to the sustainable development of our people, which include: chronic hunger; malnutrition; foreign occupation; armed conflict; illicit drug problems; organized crime; corruption; natural disasters; illicit arms trafficking; trafficking in persons; terrorism; intolerance and incitement to racial, ethnic, religious and other hatreds; xenophobia; and endemic, communicable and chronic diseases, in particular HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis."