The concept of Sustainable Development 

Despite having been coined for the first time in 1980 by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the concept of Sustainable Development will only gain popularity in 1987 after the Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, titled "Our Common Future" often referred to as the Brundtland Report, was published. The Report called for long-term environmental strategies to achieve sustainable development by 2000. Well, twenty five years later, nothing much has been achieved, the state of the environment has gotten worse and the climate is warming. Planning for sustainable development remains more than ever a central issue. The concept of sustainable development provides a framework for the synchronization of development strategies with 
environmental policies.

Sustainable Development has been introduced in the Brundtland Report as one that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Such development implies a viable economic growth that must be socially equitable and environmentally bearable. It pledges for reserving natural resources to the next generations while preventing severe environmental pollution. This requires
that those who are more affluent adopt life-styles within the planet's ecological means as growing populations in developing nations increase pressure on natural resources and environment. It also vows to eradicate poverty by extending opportunities to all for a better future and life. To achieve sustainability, it is important to ensure that the economic growth and population are in harmony with ecosystems' potentialities.

Implementing Sustainable Development

In 1992, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Rio Summit or the Earth Summit, published the Earth Charter and Agenda 21. While the Earth charter was a declaration of fundamental values and principles for sustainability, Agenda 21 was outlined as an Action Plan for the implementation of the Sustainable development principles. Agenda 21 laid out the key building blocks that would help countries achieve sustainable development, rooted on the three pillars of sustainability: economic growth, social progress and environmental protection. The document advocated a series of strategies such as changing consumption patterns, developing renewable energy resources, energy efficient technologies, reducing the use of energy and materials, promoting inter-modal transportation systems, minimizing the use of toxic chemicals, reducing generation of waste and encouraging sustainable agricultural and manufacturing practices.

In 2002, ten years after the first Earth Summit, was held in South Africa the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Rio+10) and lately in 2012 the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). A few more international declarations and commitments were made each time during those summits but little progress has been made towards the goals of sustainable development. Many countries don't even yet have appropriate metrics to track their environmental performance and adequately conduct sustainability reporting. However despite disagreement on global sustainability metrics, conceptual frameworks exist and sustainable development indicators can be used effectively to account for sustainability.