The Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development put the green economy on the international agenda. The conference, which took place in June 2012, adopted the principles for a green economy policy. These aim to achieve sustainable development and to eradicate poverty throughout the world. The sustainable use of natural resources and reduction of negative environmental consequences, the increasing of resource efficiency and reduction of waste are among the instruments included in this kind of green economy policy. However, the UN Member States chose not to formulate more concrete objectives. In addition, the principles give the Member States considerable scope in the implementation of a green economy policy. Hence much remains to be done at national level so that the green economy can become a reality.
The precursor conference in Rio in 1992 set the course for a comprehensive global environmental policy. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was signed at this conference in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and, to the present day, forms the basis for international climate policy. The annual climate conferences are follow-up conferences for the Convention. Concrete measures, for example the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, are adopted at these follow-up conferences. The participating states are currently negotiating a comprehensive international climate agreement.
Rio 1992 established not only the basis for a global climate policy, but also for a global biodiversity conservation policy. The Convention on Biological Diversity, which was signed in Rio, aims not only to protect diversity but also to regulate its sustainable and equitable use. Like the climate conferences, the follow-up conferences, which take place every two years, pass concrete measures for the implementation of the Convention. For example, the Nagoya Protocol of 2010, which was also ratified by Switzerland, regulates the access to genetic resources and the distribution of the benefits arising from their use.
In turn, Rio 1992 tied in with the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm in 1972. This first UN environment conference is considered as marking the beginning of international sustainability and climate policy. It led to the establishment of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), among other things.