This paper provides a conceptual review of the term “sustainable development”, bearing in mind its current applicability to social matters and public decision-making. Taking the well-known definition of sustainable development coined by the Brundtland Commission over twenty years ago, we consider the consequences of adopting weak and strong sustainability criteria for continued development and the importance of conserving so-called critical natural capital. We also examine the relationship between sustainable development and equity. We then present a concept of development that integrates the three areas of economic, social and environmental sustainability. Finally, we discuss the main forces that currently surround the problem of achieving sustainable development.