Updated 10 June, 2003

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Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development


United Nations Development Programme 


A Resource Book for
Sustainable Development Strategies

Second Draft

1 March 2002

A Resource Book for
Sustainable Development Strategies

International Institute for Environment and Development
3 Endsleigh Street, London WC1H ODD

Tel:  +44-207-388-2117;  Fax: +44-207-388-2826

http://www.iied.org (see also: http://www.nssd.net

Email: barry.dalal-clayton@iied.org and Steve.bass@iied.org

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Table of Contents (summary). Please note some of these files are large and make take some time to download depending on your connection speed.

Background Information on the Resource Book


In 1992, Agenda 21 called for all countries to develop national sustainable development strategies (NSDSs). These are intended to translate the ideas and commitments of the Earth Summit into concrete policies and actions. Agenda 21 recognised that key decisions are needed at the national level, and should be made by stakeholders together. It believed that the huge agenda inherent in sustainable development needed an orderly approach – a ‘strategy’. But Agenda 21 stopped short of defining such a strategy, or even of guidance on how to go about it.

The UN held a Special Session to review progress five years after the Earth Summit. Delegates were concerned about continued environmental deterioration, and social and economic marginalisation. There have been success stories, but they are fragmented, or they have caused other problems. Sustainable development as a mainstream process of societal transformation still seems elusive. Strategic policy and institutional changes are still required.

The Rio+5 assessment led governments to set a target of 2002 for introducing national sustainable development strategies. The Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the OECD, in its 1996 Shaping the 21st Century publication, called for the formulation and implementation of an NSDS in every country by 2005 (as one of seven International Development Targets). It also committed DAC members to support developing countries’ NSDSs. But, again, no attempt was made to set out what a strategy would include or involve – in spite of growing experience with a number of international and local strategic models. ‘How would I know one if I saw one?’ one Minister asked.

This Resource Book is the companion to Policy Guidance (Strategies for Sustainable Development: Guidance for Development Cooperation (OECD-DAC 2001a). Both publications draw from international experience of many strategic approaches to sustainable development over the past two decades.

During 1999-2001, members of the OECD/DAC Working Party on Development Cooperation and Environment worked in partnership with eight developing countries to assess experience of country-level sustainable development strategies: Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Namibia, Nepal, Pakistan, Tanzania and Thailand. Through dialogues involving stakeholders from government, the private sector and civil society, past and existing strategic planning experiences were analysed, key issues and challenges identified, and principles for best practice developed. An iterative process involving in-country discussions and three international workshops in Tanzania, Thailand and Bolivia, led to consensus on the final text of the Policy Guidance.

The Policy Guidance sets out best practice in developing and operating strategic processes for sustainable development, and on how development cooperation agencies can best assist developing countries in such processes, and includes a set of set of principles which underpin the development of effective strategies in many developing countries (Box 3.1).

In November 2001, a UN International Forum on National Strategies for Sustainable Development (held in preparation for the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development, WSSD) agreed guidance on NSDSs which confirms almost identical principles - but termed ‘elements’ (Box 3.2) and defined as being applicable to both developed and developing countries alike.

Following up on this, PrepCom3 for the WSSD in March/April 2002, noted the work of the OECD DAC and the Ghana Forum and called for the endorsement of the UN Guidance and launch of a manual on NSDSs at the WSSD [to be confirmed at PrepCom3 in March/April 2002].

This Resource Book meets the needs of such a manual, providing in-depth information on processes and methodologies. It was prepared by the International Institute for Environment and Development, working in collaboration with members of the partner country teams (see above) and a wide range of other organisations and individuals. It will be of value to a wide range of organisations, institutions and individuals in both developed and developing countries concerned with strategic planning for sustainable development.

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Title, acknowledgements, acronyms, contents

69 KB
1. Introduction
1.1 Aims
1.2 Target audience (international, national to local)

1.3 Layout

1.4 How to use the sourcebook 

209 KB
2. Sustainable development and the need for strategic responses
2.1 The opportunity for a strategic approach to national development
2.2 Environment and development challenges
2.3 Focus on national sustainable development strategies: a Rio commitment and one of the seven international development goals
2.4 Guidance to date on sustainable development strategies
2.5 Why we need a strategic approach to sustainable development

199 KB
3.The nature of sustainable development strategies and current practice 
3.1 Introduction
3.2 What are sustainable development strategies?
3.3 Key principles for developing sustainable development strategies
3.4 Current practice: existing strategy frameworks

546 KB
4. Key steps in starting, managing and improving sustainable development strategies
4.1 Harnessing effective strategic functions in a continual-improvement system
4.2 Scoping exercise
4.3 Establishing or strengthening a Secretariat or coordinating body
4.4 Establishing or strengthening a Steering Committee or equivalent forum
4.5 Seeking or improving political commitment
4.6 Establishing or confirming a mandate for the strategy
4.7 Ensuring broad ownership of the strategy private sector
4.8 Mobilising the required resources
4.9 Identifying stakeholders and defining their roles in the strategy
4.10 Mapping out the strategy process, taking stock of existing strategies and other planning processes
4.11 Seeking to improve coherence and co-ordination between strategy frameworks at all levels between sectors – and ensuring coherence and coordination there
4.12 Establishing and agreeing the ground rules governing procedures
4.13 Establishing a schedule and calendar for the strategy process
4.14 Promoting the strategy
4.15 The role of experiments and pilot projects
4.16 Establishing and improving the regular strategy mechanisms and processes

445 KB
5. Analysis
5.1 Approaching and organising the tasks of analysis
5.2 Analysing stakeholders in sustainable development

5.3 Approaches to measuring and analyzing sustainability
5.4 Analysing sustainable development mechanisms and processes

5.5 Scenario development

Part A
372 KB

Part B
603 KB

Part C
289 KB

6. Participation
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Understanding participation
6.3 Why participation is needed in strategies for sustainable development
6.4 Ensuring effective participation – issues and planning requirements
6.5 Methods for participation in strategies

Part A
1,140 KB


7. Communications

7.1 Introduction
7.2 Shifting values, attitudes and style
7.3 Establishing a communications and information strategy and system

279 KB
8. Strategy decision-making and linkages
8.1 The scope of strategy decisions
8.2 Challenges, principles and useful frameworks for making strategy decisions
8.3 Institutional roles and processes for strategy decisions
8.4 Selecting instruments for implementing strategy decisions

364 KB
9. The financial basis for strategies 
9.1 Introduction
9.2 Mobilising finance
9.3 Using market mechanisms to create incentives for sustainable development
9.4 Mainstreaming sustainable development into investment and financial decision-making

155 KB
10. Monitoring and evaluation systems
10.1 Introduction
10.2 Who should undertake monitoring and evaluation?
10.3 When should monitoring and evaluation be undertaken?
10.4 The ‘pressure-state-response’ framework for monitoring – its utility and limitations
10.5 Monitoring the implementation of the strategy and ensuring accountability
10.6 Monitoring and evaluating the results of the strategy
10.7 Disseminating the findings of monitoring exercises, and feedback to strategy decisions

351 KB
11. References

134 KB
12. Institutions, networks, training courses and other sources of materials

223 KB


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