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Following the Rio conference of 1992, most countries undertook to draw up a national strategy

for sustainable development. The implementation of these strategies has turned out to be tricky,
because it must address very serious issues within economic and political contexts that are
marked by strong inertia. The issues appear at every level and affect practically every area of
national policy. The various approaches reflect different points of view, and in particular: more or
less constrained free market practices, a desire to place people at the heart of the economy, the
greater or lesser determination of the various countries in the world, and the balance between
short, medium, long, and very long-term interests. Moreover, there is no denying that the
interdependence of modern-day economies means that environmental problems must be dealt
with on a worldwide level, which does not simplify the implementation of the necessary
strategies, particularly because of differences in levels of development.

The aim of sustainable development is to define viable schemes combining the economic,
social, and environmental aspects of human activity. These three areas must therefore be taken
into consideration by communities, companies, and individuals. The ultimate goal of sustainable
development is to find a coherent and long-lasting balance between these three aspects. In
addition to these three main factors, there is a transverse consideration, which is essential to
the implementation of policies and actions with regard to sustainable development:
good governance. Governance consists in the procedures of the decision-making process. In
matters of sustainable development, the consensus of all the participants in society is required
in order to define objectives and implement them: private and public sector companies,
associations, NGOs, unions, and citizens.

Sustainable development did not just appear out of thin air; it is the product of a set of
transformations in which the exploitation of natural resources, the choice of type of investment,
and orientation of technological and institutional modifications are in harmony with present and
future needs. As has already been indicated, the aims of sustainable development must be
considered by individuals, by companies, and on a planet-wide level.

Moreover, the concept of sustainable development is based on a set of requirements. It must
allow the basic needs of present and future generations to be fulfilled with regard to
demographic constraints, such as: access to water, education, health, employment, and the
fight against hunger or malnutrition. Another aim of this type of development is to improve
quality of life, which involves easier access to medical care, social services, culture, and
therefore also social well-being. In addition, respect for rights and freedoms and the promotion
of new forms of renewable energy such as wind, solar, and geothermal power, are important
aspects of sustainable development. Sustainable development must allow the planets
resources and condition to be protected for future generations and natural assets to be shared.
The concept of sustainable development also involves narrowing the gaps between rich and
poor countries, insofar as these gaps, if maintained or accentuated, could be the cause of
violent conflict, which by its very nature leads to regression rather than development.