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Although many definitions abound, the
most often used definition of sustainable
development is that proposed by the Brundtland
Commission (Cerin, 2006; Dernbach J. C., 1998;
Dernbach J. C., 2003; Stoddart, 2011). This broad
definition, which will be used in this dissertation,
does not limit the scope of sustainability. The
explanation does, however, touch on the
importance of intergenerational equity. This
concept of conserving resources for future
generations is one of the major features that
distinguish sustainable development policy from
traditional environmental policy, which also seeks
to internalize the externalities of environmental
degradation. The overall goal of sustainable
development (SD) is the long-term stability of the
economy and environment; this is only achievable
through the integration and acknowledgement of
economic, environmental, and social concerns
throughout the decision making process.
In the application of this definition of
sustainable development, one issue concerns the
substitutability of capital. There are several types
of capital: social, natural, and man-made. The
definition of weak sustainable development
explains that only the aggregate level of capital
matters: man-made, or manufactured, capital is
an adequate alternative to natural capital. Strong
sustainability, on the other hand, recognizes the
unique features of natural resources that cannot
be replaced by manufactured capital. Most
ecologists and environmentalists are proponents
of the strong sustainability definition (Stoddart,
2011) .
In addition to substitutability, this
definition of sustainability is also founded on
several other important principles. Contained
within the common definition of sustainable
development, intergenerational equity recognizes
the long-term scale of sustainability in order to
address the needs of future generations
(Dernbach J. C., 1998; Stoddart, 2011). Also, the
polluter pays principle states that “governments
should require polluting entities to bear the costs
of their pollution rather than impose those costs
on others or on the environment” (Dernbach J. C.,
1998, p. 58). Thus, government policy should
ensure that environmental costs are internalized
wherever possible; this also serves to minimize
The precautionary principle establishes
that “where there are threats of serious or
irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty
shall not be used as a reason for postponing costeffective
measure to prevent environmental
degradation” (United Nations Conference on the
Human Environment, 1992). Therefore, the
proponent of an activity bears the burden of
proving that this action will not cause significant
harm. Explicitly stated in the Rio Declaration, the
notion of common but differentiated
responsibilities recognizes that each nation must
play their part on the issue of sustainable
development. This principle also acknowledges
the different contributions to environmental
degradation by developed and developing
nations, while appreciating the future
development needs of these less developed
countries (Brodhag & Taliere, 2006; Dernbach J.
C., 1998; United Nations Conference on the
Human Environment, 1992). Developed nations,
therefore, bear greater responsibility in light of
the resources they require and the pressures they
exert on the environment.
The key principle of sustainable
development underlying all others is the
integration of environmental, social, and
economic concerns into all aspects of decision
making. All other principles in the SD framework
have integrated decision making at their core
(Dernbach J. C., 2003; Stoddart, 2011). It is this
deeply fixed concept of integration that
distinguishes sustainability from other forms of
Institutionally, government organizations
are typically organized into sectoral ministries and
departments. This works fairly well until the
system encounters something very
comprehensive and highly integrated in nature,
such as sustainable development. In practice,
sustainable development requires the integration
of economic, environmental, and social objectives
across sectors, territories, and generations.
Therefore, sustainable development requires the
elimination of fragmentation; that is,
environmental, social, and economic concerns
must be integrated throughout decision making
processes in order to move towards development
that is truly sustainable. 

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