European citizens enjoy some the world's highest environmental standards. However, no matter how robust internal EU environmental legislation is, it cannot shield us from the negative consequences of trans-boundary and global environmental degradation, nor does it sufficiently reduce the impact of the EU's economic growth on natural resources worldwide. Confronting the global challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss and biosafety, deforestation, air and water pollution, and chemicals management -- to name but a few -- requires real commitment and effective cooperation at the international level.
The EU is recognised as a leading proponent of international action on environment and is committed to promoting sustainable development worldwide. Indeed, the EC Treaty requires that Community policy on the environment promote, inter alia, measures at international level to deal with regional or worldwide environmental problems. As an active participant in the elaboration and implementation of multilateral environmental agreements and other environmental negotiations and processes, notably in the United Nations framework (Commission on Sustainable Development, UNEP Governing Council), the EU's constructive position has on several occasions proved crucial to ensuring progress. For instance, the EU was widely praised for bringing about the successful conclusion of the negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in particular the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol, and for being a leading player at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development
Following the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, or "Rio+20", held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012, the EU is actively engaged in the reform of the UN institutions responsible for sustainable development (ECOSOC and the High Level Political Forum) and for environment (UNEP). The EU will also contribute to the development of the Sustainable Development Goals, which were a key outcome of Rio+20.