Principles of Sustainable Development


Many governments and individuals have pondered what sustainable development means
beyond a simple one-sentence definition. The Rio Declaration on Environment and
Development fleshes out the definition by listing 18 principles of sustainability:

1. People are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.

2. Development today must not undermine the development and environment needs of
present and future generations.

3. Nations have the sovereign right to exploit their own resources, but without causing
environmental damage beyond their borders.

4. Nations shall develop international laws to provide compensation for damage that
activities under their control cause to areas beyond their borders.

5. Nations shall use the precautionary approach to protect the environment. Where
there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, scientific uncertainty shall not be
used to postpone cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.

6. In order to achieve sustainable development, environmental protection shall
constitute an integral part of the development process, and cannot be considered in
isolation from it.

7. Eradicating poverty and reducing disparities in living standards in
different parts of the world are essential to achieve sustainable development and
meet the needs of the majority of people.

8. Nations shall cooperate to conserve, protect and restore the health and integrity of
the Earth's ecosystem. The developed countries acknowledge the responsibility that
they bear in the international pursuit of sustainable development in view of the
pressures their societies place on the global environment and of the technologies and
financial resources they command.

9. Nations should reduce and eliminate unsustainable patterns of production and
consumption, and promote appropriate demographic policies.

10. Environmental issues are best handled with the participation of all concerned
citizens. Nations shall facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by
making environmental information widely available.

11. Nations shall enact effective environmental laws, and develop national law regarding
liability for the victims of pollution and other environmental damage. Where they
have authority, nations shall assess the environmental impact of proposed activities
that are likely to have a significant adverse impact.

12. Nations should cooperate to promote an open international economic system that will
lead to economic growth and sustainable development in all countries. Environmental
policies should not be used as an unjustifiable means of restricting international

13. The polluter should, in principle, bear the cost of pollution.

14. Nations shall warn one another of natural disasters or activities that may have harmful transboundary impacts.

15. Sustainable development requires better scientific understanding of the problems.
Nations should share knowledge and innovative technologies to achieve the goal of

16. The full participation of women is essential to achieve sustainable development. The
creativity, ideals and courage of youth and the knowledge of indigenous people are
needed too. Nations should recognize and support the identity, culture and interests
of indigenous people.

17. Warfare is inherently destructive of sustainable development, and Nations shall
respect international laws protecting the environment in times of armed conflict, and
shall cooperate in their further establishment.

18. Peace, development and environmental protection are interdependent and indivisible.

Adapted from “Introduction” in McKeown, Rosalyn. Education for Sustainable Development
Toolkit, Version 2, Center for Geography and Environmental Education, University of
Tennessee, July 2002.


Kremesti Environmental Consulting adheres in its commercial activities to the principles of sustainable development laid out in the above charter.


Rami E. Kremesti M.Sc.

Managing Director