Environment and development charities say the Rio+20 agreement is too weak to tackle social and environmental crises.
Gro Harlem Brundtland, author of a major UN sustainable development report 25 years ago, said corporate power was one reason for lack of progress.
Nations will spend three years drawing up sustainable development goals.
They will also work towards better protection for marine life on the high seas.
But moves to eliminate subsidies on fossil fuels - recommended in a number of authoritative reports as likely to boost economies and curb CO2 emissions - came to naught.
Plans to enshrine the right of poor people to have clean water, adequate food and modern forms of energy also foundered or were seriously weakened during the six days of preparatory talks.
And many governments were bitter that text enshrining women's reproductive rights was removed from the declaration over opposition from the Vatican backed by Russia and nations from the Middle East and Latin America.