Sustainable Development Drivers

Sustainable Development Drivers

The Role of Leadership in Government, Business and NGO Performance

Edited by Kees Zoeteman

Sustainable development cannot be prescribed – rather, it results from conscious personal choices in government, business and NGOs. This thought-provoking book explores both the origins and future of the global sustainable development movement, and provides an original overview of the driving forces of sustainable development, including market forces and past and future trends.

Chapter 2: A Short History of Sustainable Development

Kees Zoeteman and Jaco Tavenier

Subjects: business and management, business leadership, development studies, development studies, economics and finance, environmental economics, environment, environmental economics


Kees Zoeteman and Jaco Tavenier* SUMMARY The sustainable development concept has its roots in two international movements. Its environmental roots were industrial pollution and natural resource depletion, which have become a concern since World War II in the US, Europe and Africa. First, international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were established such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). As a result of alarming reports by think tanks such as the Club of Rome, the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment introduced in 1972 the issue onto the agenda of the United Nations (UN), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was established. Yet it took another 20 years before the environmental movement started to merge with the other movement of promoting economic development. The first international development effort had been the Marshall Plan after World War II. Based on the organizational structure of the Marshall Plan, a wider framework of development assistance coordination was established within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro created, based on the Brundtland report, a breakthrough in integrating both movements to sustainable development and giving the whole a high international profile. After the Rio Summit, not only governments and NGOs but also the business community became involved. The 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg reflected the larger role of NGOs and international business, as these are the stakeholders implementing the earlier designed strategies...

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