ABSTRACT

The notion of ‘sustainable development’ is firmly on the agenda at all levels of policymaking. Sustainable development encompasses a range of issues that occur in many sectors and domains at different temporal and scale levels. Sustainable development is a future-oriented concept: it refers to the future of both present and future generations. The most cited definition of sustainable development explicitly refers to future generations: ‘Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’ (WCED 1987). Its fulfilment requires substantial changes that cannot be realised overnight. Sustainable development is, for example, about long-term changes in production and consumption patterns. Policies for sustainable development thus operate over the long run into a future whose manifestation and details cannot be predicted. The future orientation of sustainable development is thus multi-dimensional.