About Sustainable Development

In 1987, the United Nations released the Brundtland Report, which included what is now one of the most widely recognised definitions:

"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." It contains within it two key concepts:

  • the concept of 'needs', in particular the essential needs of the world's poor, to which overriding priority should be given; and
  • the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the environment's ability to meet present and future need

A useful articulation of the values and principles of sustainability can be found in the Earth Charter. It offers an integrated vision and definition of strong sustainability. The document, an ethical framework for a sustainable world, was developed over several years after the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 and launched officially in 2000. The Charter derives its legitimacy from the participatory process in which it was drafted, which included contributions from hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals, and from its use since 2000 by thousands of organizations and individuals that have been using the Earth Charter as an educational instrument and a policy tool.Economic Sustainability: Agenda 21 clearly identified information, integration, and participation as key building blocks to help countries achieve development that recognises these interdependent pillars. It emphasises that in sustainable development everyone is a user and provider of information. It stresses the need to change from old sector-centered ways of doing business to new approaches that involve cross-sectoral co-ordination and the integration of environmental and social concerns into all development processes. Furthermore, Agenda 21 emphasises that broad public participation in decision making is a fundamental prerequisite for achieving sustainable development.


  • ^ Adams, W.M. (2006). "The Future of Sustainability: Re-thinking Environment and Development in the Twenty-first Century." Report of the IUCN Renowned Thinkers Meeting, 29–31 January 2006. Retrieved on: 2009-02-16.
  • ^ UCN. 2006. The Future of Sustainability: Re-thinking Environment and Development in the Twenty-first Century. Report of the IUCN Renowned Thinkers Meeting, 29–31 January 2006
  • ^ World Commission on Environment and Development. "Our Common Future, Chapter 2: Towards Sustainable Development". Un-documents.net. http://www.un-documents.net/ocf-02.htm. Retrieved 2011-09-28. 
  • ^ 2005 World Summit Outcome Document, World Health Organization, 15 September 2005
  • ^ Will Allen. 2007."Learning for Sustainability: Sustainable Development."

Upcoming International ECPD Institute events and activities: