IISD has developed an interactive toolkit to introduce some of the basic concepts of sustainable development and ways these concepts are put into practice in institutions. This tool kit was developed primarily for the higher education community, but the learning modules will be of interest to many. The set of learning modules is aimed at providing a more complete understanding of the concept of sustainable development and its relevance to personal lives as well as institutions. These modules help identify direct application of this concept to the community and to jobs and professions. The modules then suggest next steps, contacts, and networks to keep users involved and informed in their efforts to create a sustainable society.
The site also features a chronology of the concept of sustainable development. Its timeline tracks key events, from the publication of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring in 1962 to the Earth Summit in 1992 and beyond. The site links to a data bank of Sustainable Development Principles, which illustrates the evolution and ownership of the concepts of Sustainable Development.
This site provides the definition of sustainable development prepared by the World Commission on Environment and Development (the Brundtland Commission), taken from the report Our Common Future (Oxford University Press, 1987). A section on indicators and measurement shows how to track progress to sustainability.
This site has three main sections:
(a) Social Development focuses on development that is equitable, socially inclusive, and therefore sustainable. This section promotes local, national and global institutions that are responsive, accountable, and inclusive; it empowers poor and vulnerable people to participate effectively in development processes. The Web page features links to such key topics as conflict prevention, indigenous peoples, participation, and poverty. Links are also provided to resources, projects and policies, news and events, related partnerships, and information on sustainable development issues in different world regions.
(b) Environment describes how the World Bank is focusing on finding ways to ensure that economic growth does not come at the expense of the world's physical and economic systems, or the world's poor. This section features links to learning and knowledge resources, projects, publications, data, related partnerships, information on world regions, and such key topics as biodiversity, climate change, environmental economics, and pollution management.
(c) Rural Development and Agriculture links to such key issues as gender and rural development, information and communication, water resource management, agriculture, and the WTO negotiations. Also included are features on key topics (e.g., reducing poverty in villages), policies, reports, projects, and links to the development community (conferences, discussions, and partnerships).
[click on Sustainable Development in the pull-down "Search" menu at top of page]
The Unit for Sustainable Development and Environment (USDE) responds to the needs of member states on issues relating to sustainable development within an economic development context. Technical issues addressed by the USDE include management of water resources, biodiversity, reduction of vulnerability to natural hazards, public participation in decision making, climate change/sea-level rise, coastal-zone management, and renewable energy planning. Each category contains links to groups working on related initiatives.
Among the various goals of the USDE is the facilitation of exchanges of information related to sustainable development in the region, to build a basis for the participation of civil society in environmental management decision processes.
WRI provides information and ideas about global environmental problems for the purpose of catalyzing public and private action to meet global challenges. WRI aims to move human society to live in ways that protect Earth's environment for current and future generations, by "tying together the threads of natural resource use and conservation, economic development, and social equity through research, capacity building, and institutional change."
The Spanish/English site features:
Jetzt und Morgen is an independent research group focusing on the transformation of social and economic systems at the structural level. Their Web site provides brief descriptions and definitions of major concepts associated with sustainability. The Jetzt und Morgen group is committed to the concepts of sustainability and intergenerational equity as well as to holistic approaches. Their studies aim to illustrate problems of economic as well as ecological indebtedness. They also work on developing ways to preserve natural and economical resources for future generations. Ecological, economical, and social aspects are consistently brought together with this approach.
[To reach the English version, click on "Homepage in English." To reach basic sustainability principles, click on "Studies." Then click on "Principles for Sustainable Policy and Behavior: Ecological, Economical, Social, Global" [from the study on "Sustainable Policy"]; click on "go to principles" [at "Principles for Sustainability: Summary"] for details of "Principles for Sustainable Policy and Sustainable Behavior."
This site is a quick and useful guide to understanding basic concepts of environmental sustainability indicators and benchmarks and why and how they can be applied. Includes a Community Assessment Worksheet.
The Natural Step is an international organization that uses a science-based systems framework to help organizations and communities understand and move toward sustainability. The Natural Step engages in training and consulting, research and development, and community outreach. Its purpose is to develop and share a common framework of easily understood scientific principles that act as a compass to guide society to a just and sustainable future. The site links to nine countries. Australia's Natural Step Web site is informative, with links to the Australian framework, including "back casting," the four system conditions, strategy for action, and basic science. The U.S. site also offers information on the U.S. framework, including the "funnel" and systems conditions. The U.S. site's "Strategy for action" discusses ways to implement the "system conditions" in an organization's everyday operations.