Updated 10 June, 2003

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National Strategies for Sustainable Development:
Experience, Challenges and Dilemmas

IIED (1998): National Strategies for Sustainable Development: Experience, Challenges and Dilemmas: Extracts for Two IIED Reports. International Institute for Environment and Development, London.

This background paper is a combination of extracts from two IIED reports on national strategies for sustainable development: National Sustainable Development Strategies: Experience and Dilemmas (Dalal-Clayton et al., 1994) and Rethinking Sustainable Development Strategies; Promoting Strategic Analysis, Debate and Action (Dalal-Clayton et al., 1998).

The paper re-examines the experience of national strategies for sustainable development (nssds) to date, considers why recommendations of past reviews have not been addressed or implemented, draws out some key lessons and identifies a range of challenges. It argues that a new focus and approach is required which places less emphasis on the production of a strategy document and focuses on processes which can facilitate strategic analysis, debate and action. Such an approach should be more cost-effective, politically appealing and economically viable, and respond to real needs locally, while enabling countries to contribute better to international decisions. IIEDís first thoughts are set out on why such a new start is required and what it might mean in practice. The focus is primarily on developing countries, but many of the themes have relevance elsewhere.

The paper goes on to briefly consider dilemmas faced by those contemplating or responsible for developing an nssd or similar initiative, such as the political context, the key objective, building strategic capacity, the scope of the problem and the limits of consultation and participation.

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