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Sustainable development policy: goals, targets and political cycles


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  • Nuno Quental
  • Júlia M. Lourenço
  • Fernando Nunes da Silva
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    This paper describes the global political milestones of greater importance to the emergence and evolution of sustainable development. In addition, it depicts the cyclical patterns of political activity dealing with sustainability and identifies the main sustainability goals and targets endorsed by several political initiatives. These tasks are accomplished through a literature review and an assessment of indicators dealing with political will. It is concluded that global sustainability governance followed an intermittent path characterized by two periods of significant accomplishments (until 1979; 1987–1995) and by two others less successful (1980–1986; 1995 onwards, interrupted by a peak around 2000). Peaks in political activity coincide with the decennial Earth Summits, suggesting their major influence as catalysts of more profound societal and political action. Sustainability concerns and goals shifted from an emphasis on pollution control and availability of natural resources to a more balanced position that puts human development at the center. Copyright (C) 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Sustainable Development.

    Volume (Year): 19 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 1 (January/February)
    Pages: 15-29

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    Handle: RePEc:wly:sustdv:v:19:y:2011:i:1:p:15-29

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    Keywords: sustainable development ; sustainability ; sustainability science ; environmental policy ; goals ; targets ;


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    Cited by:
    1. Falko Leukhardt & Simon Allen, 2013. "How environmentally focused is the German sustainability strategy? A critical discussion of the indicators used to measure sustainable development in Germany," Environment, Development and Sustainability, Springer, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 149-166, February.
    2. Tom Waas & Jean Hugé & Thomas Block & Tarah Wright & Francisco Benitez-Capistros & Aviel Verbruggen, 2014. "Sustainability Assessment and Indicators: Tools in a Decision-Making Strategy for Sustainable Development," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(9), pages 5512-5534, August.
    3. Emilio Galdeano-Gómez & José A. Aznar-Sánchez & Juan C. Pérez-Mesa, 2012. "Sustainability dimensions of agricultural development in Almería (Spain): The experience of 50 years," ERSA conference papers ersa12p256, European Regional Science Association.
    4. Tom Waas & Jean Hugé & Aviel Verbruggen & Tarah Wright, 2011. "Sustainable Development: A Bird’s Eye View," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(10), pages 1637-1661, September.


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