The promotion of sustainable development opens up the debates surrounding our relationship with the natural world, what constitutes social progress, and the character of development in the present and into the future. Answering the need for an introductory, comprehensive, yet critical book that explores the challenges involved in the implementation of sustainable development, this revealing text investigates this subject across different socio-political and economic contexts. It combines an examination of the institutional engagement with sustainable development at a global level, with an empirically informed discussion on challenges facing high consumption societies, economies in transition and third world countries in their efforts to achieve sustainable development. Recognizing that promoting sustainable development is a quintessentially global task, the book focuses on the authoritative Brundtland formulation of sustainable development and the role of the United Nations Summits in promoting this vision. The empirical focus of the book is complemented by strong conceptual discussions as sustainable development is explored as part of new efforts, albeit tentative, to integrate environmental, economic and (more recently) social considerations into a new development paradigm. Providing an accessible, up-to-date and comprehensive treatment of the issues surrounding the promotion of sustainable development, this unique, internationally-focused book combines a strong conceptual analysis, with wide ranging empirical focus and a wealth of case material. Including summary points and suggestions for further reading, as well as web resources and an extensive bibliography, it is ideal for students, scholars and researchers in the fields of environmental sciences, politics, sociology and development studies.