His comments came with the publication of the executive's Meeting the Needs: Priorities, Actions and Targets for sustainable development in Scotlandwhich sets out the broad approach it will take a wide range of policies.
'Scotland is a land rich in people and resources. Our job is to conserve, protect and develop those resources so that future generations are able to enjoy a country which is clean, healthy and prosperous.
'Meeting the Needs will provide the focus for the work that the executive is carrying out in vital areas such as on health, education, transport, crime and jobs. It will be a useful 'compass' to help steer future developments in all these areas.
'But this document won't change anything by itself. Sustainable development requires government to incorporate the concept in all its policies. It will need a whole generation of intelligent, considered action.
'And Meeting the Needs isn't just for government alone. It is for everyone to play a part in securing our future. We must all contribute to sustainable development. Our future depends on it.'
Amongst the priorities identified in Meeting the Needs: Priorities Actions and Targets for sustainable development in Scotland are:
Making best use of energy, conserving fossil fuels and expanding the use of renewables will help against climate change. In addition, work to increase energy efficiency will make it easier and cheaper for people to heat their homes.
Better planning, putting home, work, services and leisure together can improve quality of life, revitalise Scotland's communities and reduce the negative impact of excessive congestion and pollution.
Taking care over the use of our resources will mean that these will be available for future generations as well. That basic principle will underpin Executive work such as minimising waste, encouraging sustainable management of forests, and improving water quality.