This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), Rio de Janeiro, June 1992, and now coordinated by the UN Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities.
Agenda 21 recommends that governments, in cooperation with international organizations where appropriate, should adopt national strategies for sustainable development based on, [inter alia], the implementation of decisions taken at UNCED, particularly in respect of Agenda 21. Such strategies should build upon and harmonize the various sectoral economic, social and environmental policies and plans that are operating in a country. The experience gained through existing planning exercises such as national reports for UNCED, national conservation strategies and environment action plans should be fully used and incorporated into a country-driven sustainable development strategy. The goal should be to ensure socially responsible economic development while protecting the resource base and the environment for the benefit of future generations. It should be developed through the widest possible participation and should be based on a thorough assessment of the current situation and initiatives.
Agenda 21 further recommends that countries develop systems for monitoring and evaluation of progress towards achieving sustainable development by adopting indicators that measure changes across economic, social and environmental dimensions. It also suggests the undertaking of applied study on the integration of environmental and developmental activities into national development plans. Agenda 21 recommends support and concentration of UNEP capacity in this area.
The USA Agency for International Development (USAID) produces country environmental profiles to assess the country's natural resource potential in relation to its economic growth. A typical country profile: documents the condition of a country's environment and the human activities and other socioeconomic factors that influence natural resource use and management; describes the existing legal and institutional framework for managing natural resources and the environment; identifies and analyzes government policies, development strategies, programme priorities and investment needs related to natural resource use and environmental management; identifies areas of congruity and conflict between economic development and the sustained use of natural resources; and establishes an analytical framework for resolving conflicts in the existing use and planned allocation of natural resources. Most profiles conclude with recommendations for changes in environmental and development policies and for action to be taken to promote sustainable development. The profiles are developed as a result of dialogue with host-country leaders, development agency personnel and national resource experts. They have been produced for approximately 70 developing countries.