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  • Print publication year: 2007
  • Online publication date: September 2010

12 - Sustainable Development and mitigation



The concept of sustainable development was adopted by the World Commission on Environment and Development, and there is agreement that sustainable development involves a comprehensive and integrated approach to economic, social, and environmental processes. Discourses on sustainable development, however, have focused primarily on the environmental and economic dimensions. The importance of social, political, and cultural factors is only now getting more recognition. Integration is essential in order to articulate development trajectories that are sustainable, including addressing the climate change problem.

There is growing emphasis in the literature on the twoway relationship between climate change mitigation and sustainable development. The relationship may not always be mutually beneficial. In most instances, mitigation can have ancillary benefits or co-benefits that contribute to other sustainable development goals (climate first). Development that is sustainable in many other respects can create conditions in which mitigation can be effectively pursued (development first) (high agreement, much evidence).

Although still in early stages, there is growing use of indicators to manage and measure the sustainability of development at the macro and sectoral levels. This is driven in part by the increasing emphasis on accountability in the context of governance and strategy initiatives. At the sectoral level, progress towards sustainable development is beginning to be measured and reported by industry and governments using, for instance, green certification, monitoring tools, and emissions registries. Review of the indicators illustrates, however, that few macro-indicators include measures of progress with respect to climate change (high agreement, much evidence).