The level of resources identified in Agenda 21 is not large relative to global expenditure by the public sector. A substantial proportion of this public expenditure is allocated to the military. In countries with diminishing security concerns, opportunities to rechannel cutbacks in military expenditures into activities related to sustainable development could potentially generate large sums for Agenda 21 programmes, even if the cutbacks are relatively small in terms of percentage. For this mechanism to succeed, sustainable development concerns must out-compete claims from other sectors.
During the 1990s, military expenditures fell in most areas of the world. In 1997, world military expenditure was about US$740 000 million - the equivalent of US$125 per capita. It fell by an average of 4.5 per cent a year during the decade 1988-97. The ratio of global military expenditure to gross national product fell to 3 per cent in 1994, a new low for the entire period since 1960, compared to 5.5 per cent in 1984. For developing countries, the ratio fell consistently over the decade, from 6.1 per cent in 1984 to 2.6 per cent in 1994, except for an increase in 1990.