Sustainable Development - Testimonials


"The new OECD publication Sustainable Development is a must read for all involved in the area....and particularly for those not yet. It clearly gives a historic perspective on where we have come from, what we have achieved and the serious challenges we still have to face. The convergence of environmental, developmental and security challenges of the future are identified should we not rise to the challenges facing us quickly enough. The book also helps us to understand what role OECD has played and can play in this landscape while also showing that only be working together can we seriously hope to create a sustainable and equitable world.  It calls for a broad based dialogue on how we might move forward something an Earth Summit in 2012 might ensure becomes a blueprint for the a more sustainable future.”

Felix Dodds
Executive Director, Stakeholder Forum


“There is a paradox at the heart of sustainable development.  The idea behind it is unimpeachable; it is difficult to find anyone who genuinely believes we should run our economies inefficiently, deepen social inequities, or mismanage environmental resources.  And yet the translation of sustainable development into practice is notoriously difficult, such that unsustainable behaviour remains the norm worldwide.  Why is there such a mismatch between good intentions and far more problematic realization?

The principal problem seems to lie with the fact that individual decisions tend to be driven by immediate concerns and perceptions of self-interest, whereas decisions that advance sustainable development often mean sacrificing immediate or personal gain in favour of the public good over the longer term.  Where the signals that make up individual perceptions of self-interest align with the needs of sustainable development, then the task is easier.  Most often, unfortunately, they are at variance – or entirely opposed one to the other.  The challenge of selling sustainable development is the challenge of selling preventive policies, of selling less immediate or longer term interests, and of selling general benefit over individual profit.  And yet for the future of the planet we must imperatively find a way to do that successfully.

We are helped in this task by the new volume on Sustainable Development in the OECD Insights series.  The book not only lays out the fundaments of sustainable development clearly, it draws on a good deal of practical and positive experience in implementing it in practice to indicate that sustainable development is not simply a utopian dream, but can and does work in practice.  The volume is an excellent introduction for the general reader, and provides a solid and up-to-date overview of the topic, practical advice on how sustainable development might be approached in practice, and plenty of references for the reader who would like to drill deeper on one or other aspect of the topic.  The book draws not only on OECD’s extensive experience on the topic, but from a wide variety of sources both in the rich and in the poor worlds.

Sustainable development as an idea – as a guide to human development – is now two decades old, but it is more urgent and more current even than when it was first formulated.  By refocusing our attention on what continues to be one of the key hopeful ideas for our societies, OECD has done us a great service.”

Mark Halle
Director of Trade and Investment
International Institute for Sustainable Development


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