This book is concerned with the continued challenges and opportunities of finding more sustainable patterns and processes of development within the international community for the future. Since the publication of the first edition of this text in 1994, much has been learnt regarding the principles of sustainable development, the characteristics of policies, mechanisms and projects that appear to be more sustainable, and the assessment and monitoring of environment and development outcomes that are central to sustainable development. Whilst the idea of sustainable development was relatively new in 1994, it is now suggested to have ‘come of age’ and forms a staple part of most debates about environment and development (Redclift, 2005; Adams, 2009). The pursuit of sustainable development is now stated as a principal policy goal of many of the major institutions of the world including the United Nations, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation. In 2000, the international community committed to achieving eight ‘Millennium Development Goals’ by 2015. One of these goals refers explicitly to sustainable development, but all are central in that they commit to better and more equitable outcomes in arenas such as health, gender, housing and sanitation that directly affect poorer groups. Poverty is a major cause and effect of global environmental problems and addressing poverty and inequality are long-standing and central concerns of sustainable development. The global challenge of sustainable development has been confirmed in recent years by the interlinked ‘crises’ of climate, economic recession and
rising food, fuel and commodity prices that impact hardest and first on the poorest people in societies. Finding ways to address and prevent these crises requires interconnected and interdisciplinary thinking that is also at the core of sustainable development.