Never in the history of humanity has the world faced so many environmental threats. Climate change is now called a climate emergency. We are losing biodiversity at an alarming rate. Our oceans are being choked with plastic, and we continue to produce toxic chemicals that are harmful to humans and wildlife. For millions of people, access to fresh water and sanitation is a growing challenge. The basic human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights are at risk. As Article 3 of the Declaration states: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” Sadly, too many lives are being lost because of our profligate abuse of the natural environment.
The three Rio Conventions have been linked—at least on paper—since the 1992 Earth Summit. While each treaty stands on its own, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), both of which were opened for signature at the Rio Earth Summit, and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the negotiation of which was called for in the Rio Earth Summit outcome—Agenda 21, remain intricately linked because they address interconnected and interdependent issues.