Acacia mangium
The 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil has been the largest-ever meeting of the world's nations to address environmental issues in relation to economic development needs. All Southeast Asian countries participated in the 179 nation strong United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) to discuss and reach a common perspective on global development issues. The most important documents agreed upon were the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and AGENDA 21. These agreements summarize the world nations' understanding on the need for joint action to achieve sustainable development, taking into account social, environmental and economic needs and constraints.

On the same occasion, the Forest Principles were agreed upon as a starting point and general guide to responsible forest management for government bodies, NGO's and the private sector. This can be achieved through an integration of conservation efforts and sustainable use of products for all types of forests. Sustainable Forest Management practiced in such manner will also contribute to sustain the livelihood of rural people and consequently play a significant role for overall sustainable development.

The Convention on Biodiversity (CBD), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climatic Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol (1997) are complementary international agreements, all of which have one common objective: to protect the diversity of life forms on the planet earth and to safeguard the peaceful co-existance and development of the global community.

The latest evidence of the political will to support internationally agreed actions on forests is the establishment of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in October 2000. This body promotes increased international cooperation on forest related issues. It implements proposals of the Intergovernmental Panel/Intergovernmental Forum on Forests, and mobilises financial, technical and scientific resources at all levels to achieve the sound management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests globally. The UNFF's Multi-Year Programme of Work and Plan of Action is supported by the Collaborative Partnership of Forests (CPF), an international partnership on forests that facilitates coordinated and cooperative action with provision of expertise, reporting, assessment and monitoring activities.

The main producer and consumer countries of tropical forest products are signatories to the International Tropical Timber Agreement (ITTA) of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO). ITTO promotes sustainable forest management as an important holistic tool for the sustainable development of forest resources. This would contribute to reach the overall goal of a healthy economic development for the benefit of people, their companies and organisations involved in this process.