The ideas of “sustainability” and “sustainable development” first achieved prominence among academics and international policy makers, together with policy entrepreneurs in NGOs, in the 1980s. They quickly became central concepts in policy, planning, and development discourses, from global to local, especially after the publication in 1987 of the Brundtland Report “Our Common Future,” which defined “sustainable development” as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” and the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, which gave us Agenda 21 and Local Agenda 21—global and local agendas for the twenty-first century. Since then, these terms, and variants such as “sustainable communities,” have become pervasive in government at all levels, among business leaders, and in activist and civil society discourses, and there has been a massive increase in published and online material focused on these topics.

The concept of sustainable development put …

This essay may be found on page 186 of the printed volume.

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