In my recent visit to Sweden and the GRESD network (See Blog Postcard from Sweden) there was a presentation which threw new light on the issue of how one might think about SD without resorting to separating it out into separate and seemingly disconnected parts (and therefore nullify the point of doing this). One of the presenters, Pernilla Andersson, drawing on work by the Swedish Ministry at the start of the ESD Decade, talked about this. Rather than seeing sustainable development in terms of three components: environment / society / economy, she argued (something) like this:
The Environment – the limited (and ultimately limiting) framework within which development (whether sustainable or not) has to take place
Social development – the purpose of sustainable development
The economy – the means whereby development (whether sustainable or not) will be effected.
The advantage of this way of thinking about the issue is that the link with sustainable development is not lost even though the idea has been disaggregated – and it clearly links back to Brundtland and the World Conservation Strategy. It also makes immediate sense.