Writing shortly after the close of UNCED, the Deputy Secretary-General of the Conference, Nitin Desai, suggested that UNCED had had four major achievements:

First, it has secured a set of agreements between Governments which mark significant advance in international cooperation on development and environment issues. Second, it has secured political commitment to these agreements at the highest level and placed the issue of sustainable development at the heart of the international diplomatic agenda. Third, it has opened new pathways for communication and cooperation between official and non-official organisations working towards developmental and environmental ends. Fourth, it has led to an enormous increase in public awareness of the issues that were tackled in the process.

All of these elements are interlinked – the action programmes, the political commitment, the open and transparent processes, and the public awareness reinforce each other. Together, they constitute a significant first step in the transition to sustainable development. 1