The UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro came to an end on 22 June 2012 with commitments to greater environmental protection and poverty eradication. The outcome was described as a step in the right direction. In summing up the conference Federal Environment Minister Peter Altmaier noted that although not all goals were achieved, all 191 states had "agreed on the concept of green economy".

In a 50-page declaration entitled "The Future We Want" for the first time the international community acknowledged the concept of green economy, an economic model that manages natural resources more efficiently. It was also agreed that universally applicable sustainable development goals should be drawn up by 2014, and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) strengthened and upgraded.