Updated 10 June, 2003

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Sustainable Development Strategies:
A Resource Book

Compiled By Barry Dalal-Clayton and Stephen Bass
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
and United Nations Development Programmme.

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

Go to


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 United Nations (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.

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

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 (Chapter 3, 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 ‘elements’ of successful strategies (Box 3.2) for 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 PrepCom4 in May/June 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 number 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 aiming to bring about sustainable development.

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Acknowledgements, Contents, List of figures, tables and boxes, Preface, Acronyms and abbreviations

106 KB
1. About the resource book

55 KB
2. Sustainable development and the need for strategic responses

146 KB
3. The nature of sustainable development strategies and current practice 

219 KB
4. Key steps in starting or improving strategies for sustainable development

197 KB
5. Analysis

308 KB
6. Participation in strategies for sustainable development

482 KB

7. Communications

155 KB
8. Strategy decision-making

187 KB
9. The financial basis for strategies 

124 KB
10. Monitoring and evaluation systems

120 KB


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