Today there is a wide agreement on the definition of sustainable development contained in the Brundtland report, prepared in 1987 by the World Commission on Environment and Development. The report is named after the then Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, who chaired that committee:
Sustainable development, far from being a final state of harmony, is rather the process of change in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development and institutional change are made consistent with future needs as well as with the existing ones.
The document emphasizes the protection of the needs of all individuals, upholding the universal legitimacy to aspire to better living conditions; it also underlines the need and importance of increasing citizens’ participation, in order to develop a truly democratic process contributing to international choices:
Poverty is not only an evil in itself, but sustainable development requires meeting the basic needs of all and extending to all the opportunity to fulfil their aspirations for a better life …
Meeting essential needs requires not only a new era of economic growth for nations in which the majority are poor, but an assurance that those poor get their fair share of the resources required to sustain that growth. Such equity would be aided by political systems that secure effective citizen participation in decision making and by greater democracy in international decision making.