Major Groups of the Rio Summit

In order to broaden the perspective of effective partnerships that can further the Agenda 21, the Rio Summit identified a set of nine 'Major Groups' who would have a key role to play in the implementation of Agenda 21. The nine groups clearly illustrate the broad range of definitions and categorizations that are attributed to "NGOs," and that NGOs itself are but a part of the large orbit of "civil society". These major groups are -

indigenous people, women, youth, workers,
farmers, local governments, the scientific community, business and industry, and NGOs

Section III. Strengthening The Role Of Major Groups
In "SECTION III. STRENGTHENING THE ROLE OF MAJOR GROUPS", the Rio Agreement calls for: 23.1. Critical to the effective implementation of the objectives, policies and mechanisms agreed to by Governments in all programme areas of Agenda 21 will be the commitment and genuine involvement of all social groups.

23.2. One of the fundamental prerequisites for the achievement of sustainable development is broad public participation in decision-making. Furthermore, in the more specific context of environment and development, the need for new forms of participation has emerged. This includes the need of individuals, groups and organizations to participate in environmental impact assessment procedures and to know about and participate in decisions, particularly those which potentially affect the communities in which they live and work. Individuals, groups and organizations should have access to information relevant to environment and development held by national authorities, including information on products and activities that have or are likely to have a significant impact on the environment, and information on environmental protection measures.

23.3. Any policies, definitions or rules affecting access to and participation by non-governmental organizations in the work of United Nations institutions or agencies associated with the implementation of Agenda 21 must apply equally to all major groups.


(Note that the Social Summit in Copenhagen also identified similar groups, including experts, parliamentarians, grassroots and religious organizations, trade unions, businesses, and non-governmental organizations.)

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Hari Srinivas -