perspectives on

sustainable development

News and events

Case Studies

Air quality
Climate change





Sustainability, Social justice and Environmental economics

There are hundreds of different definitions of sustainability. Below are some ways of determining and measuring what this might look like, and some contextual material on the concepts involved, from a variety of sources.

Definitions and concepts

Future Scenarios
- Global
- Regional
Theory to practice


Definitions and concepts

RMIT Definitions of Sustainability (pdf 117KB) - a list of definitions produced by RMIT University, Australia (downloaded 2005)

The Earth Charter -

UN Division for Sustainable Development -

UK Government website on Sustainable Development -

World Wide Web Virtual Library on Sustainable Development -

WWF Linking Thinking: systems approaches for sustainability -

Journal: Sustainable Development -

Wikipedia: Sustainable Development:

Sustainable Development International -

Systems thinking -
Holons, emergent properties, self-organising



The use of Ecological Footprint and Biocapacity Analyses as Sustainability Indicators for Subnational Geographical Areas: A Recommended Way Forward Final Report European Indicators Project, 27th August 2001 Includes feedback from Oslo Workshop 23-25th August 2001 Prepared for Ambiente Italia (ECIP) by Lillemor Lewan, Centre for Environmental Studies, Lund University, Sweden email: Craig Simmons, Best Foot Forward, The Future Centre, Oxford, United


Future Scenarios

Great Transitions The Promise and Lure of the Times Ahead (pdf 922KB), Paul Raskin, Tariq Banuri, Gilberto Gallopín, Pablo Gutman, Al Hammond, Robert Kates, Rob Swart, A report of the Global Scenario Group, 2002, Stockholm Environment Institute, Rockefeller Foundation, the Nippon Foundation, and the United Nations Environment Programme

Limits to Growth
Limits to Growth: the 30-year update:


Indicators: - some measurements and indicators of environments, economies and welfare.

Global level

World Development Indicators:,,contentMDK:21298138~pagePK:64133150~piPK:64133175~theSitePK:239419,00.html

Living Planet Index:
Global Environment Outlook:
GEO-4, 2007:
The Happy Planet Index, New Economics Foundation -

The Millenium Ecosystem Assessment -
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment assessed the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being. From 2001 to 2005, the MA involved the work of more than 1,360 experts worldwide. Their findings provide a state-of-the-art scientific appraisal of the condition and trends in the world’s ecosystems and the services they provide, as well as the scientific basis for action to conserve and use them sustainably.

Indicators of Sustainable Development: framework and methodologies (pdf 191KB), 2001, Background paper No. 3 Prepared by: Division for Sustainable Development DESA/DSD/2001/3



European-level statistics available from:,30070682,1090_33076576&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL

Developing a Regional Sustainability Index through a process of Community Engagement: issues around indicators, (pdf)
Northern Rivers Regional Development Board Southern Cross University



The UN Convention on Biologcal Diversity -

UK National Biodiversity Network -

From theory to practice

Gaia Education -

Gaia Education is an international programme whose aim is to develop courses on sustainable community design and development. The courses are designed by a team of ecovillage-based educators, collectively known as the GEESE -Global Ecovillage Educators for a Sustainable Earth. The major achievement of this group to date has been the development of the ground-breaking Ecovillage Design Curriculum, which draws from the experience and expertise of a network of some of the most successful ecovillages and community projects across the Earth. The Ecovillage Design Curriculum has the endorsement of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research- UNITAR and is an official contribution to the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development- UNDESD.

gaiaeducationSource: The Ecovillage Design Manual