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In recent years, issues of environment and human development have been gathered together under the integrative framework of sustainability (sustainable development), creating unprecedented demands on policy. Major policy processes have been constructed and are producing new and supposedly far reaching agreements, policies and strategies. However palatable politically, the likelihood of these leading to significant positive changes in the environment or human use of it, however, is questionable. This situation is sketched, using the Australian setting as an example. The article then establishes in detail the problem attributes particular to sustainability, and argues the crucial proposition that this policy field is different from others in both kind and degree. Some implications of this for policy analysis and prescription are noted.
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