Since the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment the reach of sustainable development governance has expanded considerably at local, national, regional and international levels.

The need for the integration of economic development, natural resources management and protection and social equity and inclusion was introduced for the first time by the 1987 Brundtland Report (Our Common Future), and it has become central in framing the discussions at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) also known as the Earth Summit. In 1993 the General Assembly established the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), as the UN high level political body entrusted with the monitoring and promotion of the implementation of the Rio outcomes, including Agenda 21.

The 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development advance the mainstreaming of the three dimensions of sustainable development in development policies at all levels through the adoption of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI).

A process was created for discussing issues pertaining to the sustainable development of small island developing States resulting in two important action plans - Barbados Plan of Action and Mauritius Strategy. A planned Conference in 2014 will take these processes forward.

In 2012 at the Rio+20 Conference, the international community decided to establish a high-level political forum for sustainable development to subsequently replace the Commission on Sustainable Development . Decisions on mandate, form and methods of work are expected to be adopted during the 67th session of the General Assembly with the aim of having the first session of the forum at the beginning of the 68th session of the Assembly (September 2013).
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