In 1992 at the United Nation (UN) Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), better known as the ‘Earth Summit’, people realized that governments alone could not achieve sustainable development. It would require the active participation of all sectors of society and all types of people - consumers, workers, businesspersons, farmers, students, teachers, researchers, activists, indigenous communities, and other communities of interest.
In that context, governments adopted Agenda 21, an action plan to achieve sustainable development, in which are formalized nine of these groups as the overarching categories through which all citizens could participate in the UN activities on achieving sustainable development. These are officially called “Major Groups” and are: business and industry, children and youth, farmers, indigenous peoples and their communities, local authorities, non-governmental organizations, the scientific and technological community, women, workers and trade unions.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) believes that the commitment and genuine involvement of all social groups is critical to the effective implementation of the objectives, policies and mechanisms in the field of environment and development. Hence, any policies, definitions or rules that affect the participation of non-governmental organizations in the work of the United Nations and that are associated with Agenda 21
must apply equally to all Major Groups.
UNEP, www.unep.org > UNEP Major Groups and Stakeholders Branch > Major Groups
Editor: Barbara PANCINO; Emanuele BLASI