Module 7


Module 7 Home

Ecologically Sustainable Development:
Goal, Objectives and Guiding Principles

The goal of ESD

Development that improves the total quality of life, both now and in the future, in a way that maintains the ecological processes on which life depends.

The core objectives of ESD

  • to enhance individual and community well-being by following a path of economic development that safeguards the welfare of future generations;

  • to provide for equity within and between generations; and

  • to protect biological diversity and maintain essential ecological processes and life support systems.

The guiding principles of ESD

  • Decision making processes should effectively integrate both long-term and short-term economic, environmental, social and equity considerations.

  • Where there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation.

  • The global dimension of environmental impacts of actions and policies should be recognised and considered.

  • The need to develop a strong, growing and diversified economy which can enhance the capacity for environmental protection should be recognised.

  • The need to maintain and enhance international competitiveness in an environmentally sound manner should be recognised.

  • Cost effective and flexible policy instruments should be adopted, such as improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms.

  • Decisions and actions should provide for broad community involvement on issues which affect them.


These guiding principles and core objectives need to be considered as a package. No objective or principle should predominate over the others. A balanced approach is required that takes into account all these objectives and principles to pursue the goal of ESD.