To protect the planet, we have long been told to think globally and act locally. But we can readily see that there are as many reasons to think locally and act globally. If we do not think locally, we may ignore rich sources of traditional environmental knowledge and devalue local understanding and experience of environmental problems. If we do not act globally, we will never solve the big issues of the global commons: atmospheric and ocean pollution and the impacts of environmental degradation across national boundaries. Sustainability has many local and global dimensions.
Sustainable development is today a widely accepted societal goal and concept. It was first given prominence in the World Conservation Strategy, jointly launched in 1980 by The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and was further developed by the World Commission on Environment and Development (The Brundtland Commission); since then its progressive adoption has been remarkable. It has been a key concept underlying international environmental conferences and debates such as the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and the Rio review conference held in New York in 1997. Sustainable development is now a standard commitment of national leaders of political parties and business leaders. But are young people aware of the concept of sustainability and do they have a good understanding of it? This is an initial question explored in the cross-cultural research involving countries in the Asia-Pacific region that forms the basis for this book.
While there are many views about Sustainable development, the most commonly used definition is still that of the Brundtland Commission in its report Our Common Future. The Commission defined Sustainable development as 'development that meets the needs of the present without