The chapter seeks to assess the relation of environmental policies with the social development of developing countries. It questions the long-standing view that economic development aimed at fighting poverty could successfully be pursued in an early phase without regard to environmental degradation. It points at the very high importance of environmental services (clean water, fertile soils, green infrastructures, biodiversity) for the poorest parts of the population and the risks related to a development process ignoring these links. The chapter describes the multilateral process that eventually led to the establishment of the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It argues for full and simultaneous implementation of the 17 SDGs and highlights the necessity of proper local governance for successful development strategies, taking equal account of social inclusion and maintaining a healthy environment in the pursuit of economic development. It discusses a number of specific country strategies, notably South Korea and China, and seeks to draw some lessons from their chosen development strategy and their respective governance approaches.