Agenda 21
An Easy Reference to
Specific Recommendations on Women

Gender and Agenda 21
[ Part I ]
Chapters 1 to 9
[ Part II ]
Chapters 10 to 19
[ Part III ]
Chapters 20 to 40

Part 3: Chapters 20-40


20.20. Many countries lack the national capacity to handle and manage hazardous wastes. In addition, there is a lack of knowledge about environmental contamination and pollution and the associated health risk from the exposure of populations, especially women and children, and ecosystems to hazardous wastes; assessment of risks; and the characteristics of wastes. Steps need to be taken immediately to identify populations at high risk and to take remedial measures, where necessary. One of the main priorities in ensuring environmentally sound management of hazardous wastes is to provide awareness, education and training programmes covering all levels of society...

(b) Scientific and technological means

20.26. The following activities should be undertaken:

(b)Governments, in collaboration with international organizations, should conduct research on the health effects of hazardous wastes in developing countries, including the long-term effects on children and women.

20.27. Governments, according to their capacities and available resources and with the cooperation of the United Nations and other relevant organizations and industry as appropriate, should:

(b)Increase participation in hazardous waste management programmes by the general public, particularly women, including participation at grass-roots levels;

(c)Develop training and education programmes for men and women in industry and Government aimed at specific real-life problems, for example, planning and implementing hazardous waste minimization programmes, conducting hazardous materials audits and establishing appropriate regulatory programmes.

20.28 The following activities should also be undertaken:

(a)Governments, according to their capacities and available resources and with the cooperation of the United Nations, other organizations and non-governmental organizations, should collaborate in developing and disseminating educational materials concerning hazardous wastes and their effects on environment and human health, for use in schools, by women's groups and by the general public.


21.19. Governments and institutions and non-governmental organizations, including consumer, women's and youth groups, in collaboration with appropriate organizations of the United Nations system, should launch programmes to demonstrate and make operational enhanced waste reuse and recycling. These programmes should, wherever possible, build upon existing or planned activities and should:

(a)Develop and strengthen national capacity to reuse and recycle an increasing proportion of wastes;

(b)Review and reform national waste policies to provide incentives for waste reuse and recycling;

(e)Develop public education and awareness programmes to promote the use of recycled products.

21.25. ...Governments, in collaboration with United Nations...should undertake the following list of actions:

(d)Encouraging non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations and women's, youth and public interest group programmes, in collaboration with local municipal authorities, to mobilize community support for waste reuse and recycling through focused community-level campaigns.

21.46. Research activities could be enhanced. Countries, in cooperation with appropriate international organizations and non-governmental organizations, should, for instance:

(c)Launch campaigns to encourage active community participation involving women's and youth groups in the management of waste, particularly household waste.


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.  


[Click on this link to open full text of Chapter 24]


25.5. Each country, by the year 2000, should ensure that more than 50 per cent of its youth, gender balanced, are enrolled in or have access to appropriate secondary education or equivalent educational or vocational training programmes by increasing participation and access rates on an annual basis.

25.8. Each country should combat human rights abuses against young people, particularly young women and girls, and should consider providing all youth with legal protection, skills, opportunities and the support necessary for them to fulfil their personal, economic and social aspirations and potentials.

25.9. Governments, according to their strategies, should take measures to:

(a) Establish procedures allowing for consultation and possible participation of youth of both genders, by 1993, in decision-making processes with regard to the environment, involving youth at the local, national and regional levels;

(e) In cooperation with relevant ministries and organizations, including representatives of youth, develop and implement strategies for creating alternative employment opportunities and provide required training to young men and women.

25.14. Governments should take active steps to:

(c) Promote primary environmental care activities that address the basic needs of communities, improve the environment for children at the household and community level and encourage the participation and empowerment of local populations, including women, youth, children and indigenous people, towards the objective of integrated community management of resources, especially in developing countries;

(d) Expand educational opportunities for children and youth, including education for environmental and developmental responsibility, with overriding attention to the education of the girl child.


26.9 International development agencies and Governments should commit financial and the resources to education and training for indigenous people and their communities to develop their capacities to achieve their sustainable self- development, and to contribute to and participate in sustainable and equitable development at the national level. Particular attention should be given to strengthening the role of indigenous women.


28.2 The following objectives are proposed for this programme area:

(d) All local authorities in each country should be encouraged to implement and monitor programmes which aim at ensuring that women and youth are represented in decision- making, planing and implementation processes.


29.7 Joint (employer/worker) or tripartite (employer/worker/Government) collaborative mechanisms at the workplace, community and national levels should be established to deal with safety, health and environment, including special reference to the rights and status of women in the workplace.


30.1 Business and industry, including transnational corporations, play a crucial role in the social and economic development of a country. A stable policy regime enables and encourages business and industry to operate responsibly and efficiently and to implement longer-term policies. Increasing prosperity, a major goal of the development process, is contributed primarily by the activities of business and industry. Business enterprises, large and small, formal and informal, provide major trading, employment and livelihood opportunities. Business and industry, including transnational corporations, and their representative organizations should be full participants in the implementation and evaluation of activities related to Agenda 21.

30.17 Entrepreneurship is one of the most important driving forces for innovations, increasing market efficiencies and responding to challenges and opportunities. Small and medium-sized entrepreneurs, in particular, play a very important role in the social and economic development of a country. Often, they are the major means for rural development, increasing off-farm employment and provide the transitional means for improving the livelihoods of women. Responsible entrepreneurship can play a major role in improving the efficiency of resource use, reducing risks and hazards, minimizing wastes and safeguarding environmental qualities.

30.24 Business and industry should establish national councils for sustainable development and help promote entrepreneurship in the formal and informal sectors. The inclusion of women entrepreneurs should be facilitated.


31.4 Governments should undertake the following activities:

(g) Promote and strengthen the role of women as full partners in the science and technology disciplines.

31.10 The following activities could be undertaken:

(c) Extending and training in developmental and environmental ethical issues to integrate such objectives into education curricula and research priorities.


32.3 The rural household, indigenous people and their communities, and the family farmer, a substantial number of whom are women, have been the stewards of much of the Earth's resources. Farmers must conserve their physical environment as they depend on it for their sustenance. Over the past 20 years there has been impressive increase in aggregate agricultural production. Yet, in some regions, this increase has been outstripped by population growth or international debt or falling commodity prices. Further, the natural resources that sustain farming activity need proper care, and there is a growing concern about the sustainability of agricultural production systems.

32.5 The sustainable development of people in marginal and fragile ecosystems is also addressed in Agenda 21. The key to the successful implementation of these programmes lies in the motivation and attitudes of individual farmers and government policies that would provide incentives to farmers to manage their natural resources efficiently and in a sustainable way. Farmers, particularly women, face a high degree of economic, legal and institutional uncertainties when investing in their land and other resources. The decentralization of decision-making towards local and community organizations is the key in changing people's behaviour and implementing sustainable farming strategies. This programme area deals with activities which can contribute to this end.

36.6 The following objectives are proposed:

(b) To support and enhance the legal capacity of women and vulnerable groups with regard to access, use and tenure of land;

(f) to enhance the participation of farmers, men and women, in the design and implementation of policies directed towards these ends, through their representative organizations.

32.7 Governments should:

(d) Protect, recognize and formalize women's access to tenure and use of land, as well as rights to land, access to credit, technology, inputs and training.

32.9 Governments and farmers' organizations should:

(c) Develop pilot projects and extensions services that would seek to build on the needs and knowledge base of women farmers.

32.15 Governments should, in the light of each country's specific situation:

(c) Establish mechanisms to increase access of farmers, in particular women and farmers from indigenous groups, to agricultural training, credit and use of improved technology for ensuring food security.


33.8 All countries should assess how to translate Agenda 21 into national policies and programmes through a process that will integrate environment and development considerations. National and local priorities should be established by means that include public participation and community involvement, promoting equal opportunity for men and women.


34.3 Environmentally sound technologies are not just individual technologies, but total systems which include know-how, procedures, goods and services, and equipment as well as organizational managerial procedures. This implies that when discussing transfer of technologies, the human resource development and local capacity-building aspects of technology choices, including gender-relevant aspects, should also be addressed. Environmentally sound technologies should be compatible with nationally determined socio- economic, cultural, and environmental priorities.

34.14 The following objectives are proposed:

(c) To facilitate the maintenance and promotion of environmentally sound indigenous technologies that may have been neglected or displaced, in particular in developing countries, paying particular attention to their priority needs and taking into account the complimentary roles of men and women.


35.21 The primary objective is to improve the scientific capacities of all countries/- in particular, those of developing countries/- with specific regard to:

(a) Education, training and facilities for local research and development and human resource development in basic scientific disciplines and in environment-related sciences, utilizing where appropriate traditional and local knowledge of sustainability;

(b) A substantial increase by the year 2000 in the number of scientists/-particularly women scientists/- in those developing countries where their number is at present insufficient.

35.25 Capacity building includes the following:

(b) Enhance national, regional and global capacities for carrying out scientific research and applying scientific and technological information to environmentally sound and sustainable development. This includes a need to increase financial resources to global and regional scientific and technological information networks, as may be appropriate, so that they will be able to function effectively and efficiently in satisfying the scientific needs of developing countries. Ensure the capacity-building of women by recruiting more women in research training.


36.4 Recognizing that countries, regional and international organizations will develop their own priorities and schedules for implementation in accordance with their needs, policies and programmes, the following objectives are proposed:

(a) To endorse the recommendations arising from the World Conference on Education for All: Meeting Basic Learning Needs/2/ (Jomtien, Thailand, 5-9/March/1990) and to strive to ensure universal access to basic education, and to achieve primary education for at least 80/per/cent of girls and 80/per/cent of boys of primary school age through formal schooling or non-formal education and to reduce the adult illiteracy rate to at least half of its 1990 level. Efforts should focus on reducing the high illiteracy levels and redressing the lack of basic education among women and should bring their literacy levels into line with those of men;

(c) Countries are encouraged to set up national advisory environmental education coordinating bodies or round tables representative of various environmental, developmental, educational, gender and other interests, including non- governmental organizations, to encourage partnerships, help mobilize resources, and provide a source of information and focal point for international ties. These bodies would help mobilize and facilitate different population groups and communities to asses their own needs and to develop the necessary skills to create and implement their own environmental and development initiatives; (k) Countries should facilitate and promote non-formal education activities at the local, regional and national levels...and suggest sustainable alternatives to policy makers;

(l) Educational authorities, with appropriate assistance of non-governmental organizations, including women's and indigenous peoples' organizations, should promote all kinds of adult education programmes for continuing education in environment and development, basing activities around elementary/secondary schools and local problems. These authorities and industry should encourage business, industrial and agricultural schools to include such topics in their curricula. The corporate sector could include sustainable development in their education and training programmes. Programmes at a post-graduate level should include specific courses aiming at the further training of decision makers;

(m) Governments and educational authorities should foster opportunities for women in non-traditional fields and eliminate gender stereotyping in curricula. This could be done by improving enrolment opportunities, including females in advanced programmes as students and instructors, reforming entrance and teacher staffing policies and providing incentives for establishing child-care facilities, as appropriate. Priority should be given to education of young females and to programmes promoting literacy among women.

36.10 Recognizing that countries, regional and international organizations will develop their own priorities and schedules for implementation in accordance with their needs, policies and programmes, the following activities are proposed:

(k) Countries, the United Nations and non-governmental organizations should encourage mobilization of both men and women in awareness campaigns, stressing the role of the family in environmental activities, women's contribution to transmission of knowledge and social values and the development of human resources.

36.13 The following objectives are proposed: (a) To establish or strengthen vocational training programmes that meet the needs of environment and development with ensured access to training opportunities, regardless of social status, age, gender, race or religion.


37.5 As an important aspect of overall planning, each country should seek internal consensus at all levels of society on policies and programmes needed for short- and long- term capacity-building to implement its Agenda 21 programme. This consensus should result from a participatory dialogue of relevant interest groups and lead to an identification of skill gaps.


38.14 Within the intergovernmental framework, consideration should be given to allow non-governmental organizations including those related to major groups, committed to the implementation of Agenda 21 to have relevant information available to them including information, report and other data produced within the United Nations system.

38.19 A highly qualified and competent secretariat support structure within the United Nations Secretariat, drawing, inter alia, on the expertise gained in the UNCED preparatory process is essential for the follow-up to the Conference and the implementation of Agenda 21. This secretariat support structure should provide support to the work of both intergovernmental and interagency coordination mechanisms. Concrete organizational decisions fall within the competence of the Secretary-General as the chief administrative officer of the Organization, who is requested to report on the provision to be made, covering staffing implications, as soon as practicable, taking into account gender balance as defined in Article 8 of the United Nations Charter, and the need for the optimum use of existing resources in the context of current and ongoing restructuring of the United Nations Secretariat.

2. United Nations Development Programme

38.25 Its role would include the following:

(f) promoting and strengthening the role and involvement of women, youth and other major groups, in recipient countries in the implementation of Agenda 21.

38.42 Non-governmental organizations and major groups are important partners in the implementation of Agenda 21. Relevant non-governmental organizations, including scientific community, the private sector, women's groups etc., should be given opportunities to make their contributions and establish appropriate relationships with the United Nations system. support should be provided for developing countries' non-governmental organizations and their self-organized networks.


40.8 Countries and, upon request, international organizations should carry out inventories of environmental, resource and developmental data, based on national/global priorities for the management of sustainable development. They should determine the gaps and organize activities to fill those gaps. Within the organs and organizations of the United Nations system and relevant international organizations, data- collection activities, including those of Earthwatch and World Weather Watch, need to be strengthened, especially in the areas of urban air, freshwater, land resources (including forests and rangelands), desertification, other habitats, soil degradation, biodiversity, the high seas and the upper atmosphere. Countries and international organizations should make use of new techniques of data collection, including satellite-based remote sensing. In addition to the strengthening of existing development-related data collection, special attention needs to be paid to such areas as demographic factors, urbanization, poverty, health and rights of access to resources, as well as special groups, including women, indigenous peoples, youth, children and the disabled, and their relationships with environment issues.

40.11 Countries, with the cooperation of international organizations, should establish supporting mechanisms to provide local communities and resource users with the information and know-how they need to manage their environment and resources sustainably, applying traditional and indigenous knowledge and approaches when appropriate. This is particularly relevant for rural and urban populations and indigenous, women's and youth groups.

Gender and Agenda 21
[ Part I ]
Chapters 1 to 9
[ Part II ]
Chapters 10 to 19
[ Part III ]
Chapters 20 to 40

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