We have invited key figures in the sustainable development movement to reflect on progress to date in a series of perspectives: what's worked, and what hasn't. And we have collected a timeline of the key milestones in the history of sustainable development.
Share what you find, post your opinions, or get in touch about contributing to the site.
Explore over 800 seminal events in the sustainable development timeline. Energy, politics, disasters, movements, oceans, corporate responsibility - a movement that has developed in some places over thousands of years.
Big questions for sustainable development
Looking across perspectives, timelines and discussions, we've pulled out some answers to key questions in working towards sustainable development.
The modern-day sustainable development movement has developed principally over the past 50 years. But forecasts today suggest we don't have that long again to overcome perhaps much bigger challenges. So how can we move fast enough?
The challenges of sustainable development are often huge, inter-connected, comprehensive and fundamental. Some practical steps from authors’ perspectives on getting over the sense of futility and making effective change.
One of the characteristics that almost all sustainable development work has in common is working with a variety of different stakeholders. But multi-stakeholder working is complex and hard work: competing agendas, different ideas, managing egos, maintaining relationships... Why not just do it alone?
It's easy to focus on big, hard-hitting targets: corporate strategies, government policies, intergovernmental agreements etc. But often, the big achievements in sustainable development have come from working with ordinary people in extraordinary ways.
Richard Sandbrook Ingredients
Being able to see beyond the here and now to a bigger, better picture of the future.
Having the confidence, skill and understanding to communicate effectively and persuasively.
Being hard-working, devoted and determined with energy and bloodymindedness.
Believing in the importance of fun and playfulness, being able to poke fun at yourself and also at others. (Sometimes laughing at yourself gives you a license to laugh at other things, that need laughing at.)
Having passion and harnessing it, having compassion and acting on it, and having a belief in the potential of the underdog, which often lies latent beneath the surface, but which, time after time, is shown to be worth believing in.
Being able to stand back and see the wood for the trees, being able to think laterally and creatively about challenges, hurdles, solutions and opportunities that are sometimes not the obvious ones.
Being provocative and not afraid to ask difficult questions, including about things that others are reluctant or afraid of probing into.
Being a 'tempered radical' - seeking to change people, policies and practices not so much by fighting against them but working with them.
Bringing people together in combinations, collaborations and partnerships that perhaps they, or other people, wouldn't have thought productive, so as to achieve particular results.
Working with people and with experience, by taking the time to understand people and their experiences, and by establishing knowledge and understanding yourself.
Paying attention to processes and practices, and also to people's learning: looking to effect sustainable change by changing hearts and minds.
Read more about Richard Sandbrook.