Areas of activitySustainable development

For the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the concept of sustainable development goes beyond merely linking environmental considerations to economic growth. Sustainable development encompasses such other vital issues as human development, social and economic justice, and advancement of democracy. This approach is particularly characteristic of the Union's activities in the fields of:

Economic and social development

IPU work in these two fields is guided by the Standing Committee Committee on Sustainable Development, Finance and Trade.


During the Union's statutory Conferences and specialized meetings, parliamentarians debate general concepts, such as human development, and make recommendations with regard to various specific problems of world economic and social development, such as financing for development, the need to revise the current global financial and economic model, employment in a globalizing world, the need to eliminate all commercial and other forms of sexual exploitation of children, globalization of economy and liberalization of trade, Third World debt and its impact as a factor limiting the integration of the Third World countries into the process of globalisation, writing off the government debt of heavily indebted poor countries, spread of AIDS and its devastating human, economic and social impact, international mass migration of people, situation of the elderly, children's rights, demographic problems, the problem of metropolitan areas, conservation of world fish stocks, tourism, the right to food.

Multiple examples of this can be found in the list of issues covered by the Inter-Parliamentary Conferences in recent years.

The Union has also organized or sponsored specialized parliamentary events on socio-economic and related issues, including:
Inter-Parliamentary Conference on "Attaining the World Food Summit's objectives through a sustainable development strategy" (Rome, 29 November-2 December 1998)
Inter-Parliamentary Workshop "Implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in Central Asia and Kazakhstan " (Ashgabat, 20-22 February 1997)
Asia and Pacific Inter-Parliamentary Conference on "Science and Technology for Regional Sustainable Development" (Tokyo, June 1994)
Inter-Parliamentary Conference on "North-South Dialogue for Global Prosperity" (Ottawa, October 1993)
Central and Eastern-European Parliamentary Workshop "Surviving Transition: Welfare Safety Nets for Children and Vulnerable Families" (Budapest, March 1993)
Conference on "Economic Co-operation in the Asia-Pacific Region" (Jomtien, January 1991)

The Union actively co-operates with the United Nations in this domain. Only in recent years, the IPU contributed to such major international socio-economic fora as International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, 1994); IVth World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995); World Summit for Social Development (Copenhagen, 1995); the World Food Summit (Rome, November 1996); and the Habitat II Conference (Istanbul, 1996). The issue of parliamentary follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development was in the focus of attention of the Tri-Partite Meeting of Parliamentary, Governmental and Inter-Governmental Representatives held at the UN Headquarters in September 1996.

Likewise, parliamentarians contributed to the International Year of the Family proclaimed by the United Nations.

On the occasion of such major UN fora, the Union often organizes Parliamentarians' Days to allow legislators to put forward their views on the issues at stake and to suggest measures of parliamentary follow-up.


Protection of the environment has long been a concern of the IPU, and its actions in this field are carried out in the framework of sustainable development.

The first world-wide Inter-Parliamentary Conference on Environment was held in 1984, in Nairobi. The Conference advocated the inclusion of environmental protection in the development process. Since 1992, the IPU's environment programme has focused primarily on preparation of directions for and, later on, implementation, at the parliamentary level, of the recommendations of the UN Conference on Environment and Development (Rio de Janeiro, June 1992).

In November 1992, the IPU organized in Brasilia an Inter-Parliamentary Conference on Environment and Development. The Conference adopted the Brasilia Plan of Action specifying concrete measures to be taken, at the parliamentary level, to ensure the continuation and strengthening of the process initiated by governments in Rio.

A four-year IPU programme (1994-97) to gather information on the steps taken by Parliaments to implement the Rio recommendations has been completed. Details concerning this work can be found in the Report on the 1996 session of the IPU Committee for Sustainable Development submitted to the 158th session of the Inter-Parliamentary Council.

During the same session, the Council also adopted a Declaration on "The follow-up to Rio: financing and transfer of technology" which was subsequently submitted to the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development.

Different aspects of environmental problems, such as water, waste management or measures required to change consumption and production patterns have been considered by statutory Conferences of the Union.

A World Directory of parliamentary bodies dealing with the environment was published by the IPU in 1997 in order to promote contacts and stimulate information exchange among Parliaments. Learn more about this Directory by taking a closer look at the List of IPU Publications.

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