Sustainable development looks to ensure progress takes place in a manner which does not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
Key areas sustainable development covers include:
-- Effective protection of the environment and prudent use of natural resources
-- Maintenance of stable levels of economic growth and employment.
The global picture is worrying. A quarter of the world's people have to survive on incomes of less than one US dollar a day. A fifth have no access to healthcare.
Local government has a central role to play in all this. According to the Local Government Association, the challenge is to understand how well community strategies and local partnerships are working.
And the answer is local quality of life indicators: 'We should be positively encouraged to use a wide range of quality of life indicators to support priority setting and decision making,' says the LGA. 'At the moment, indicators set locally or focusing on 'softer issues' tend to be seen as less important than those which central government uses to monitor and assess performance.
'But in terms of creating more sustainable communities, these local indicators may be the most meaningful and useful to local people.'