The World Commission on Environment and Development was established in 1983 at the instigation of the United Nations and under the chairmanship of Mrs Gro Harlem Brundtland of Norway. Its mandate was to explore the nature and possible consequences of the environmental threats that face mankind and to recommend measures to safeguard and improve the quality of life on earth in the future, taking into account the interrelationships between people, resources, environment and development. The commission concluded that provision for an acceptable future could only be made by the adoption of sustainable development as the working principle behind all future planning. In 1988, a year after the Commission's report was published, we organised a series of public lectures at Cambridge University to examine how politicians, industrialists, scientists and the public were responding to the report's recommendations and to the degradation that it highlighted. Some of the lectures were given media coverage, but the editors felt that a greater number of people than this reached, would benefit from the information and advice they gave. Macmillan's agreement to publish and their request that more material be provided gave the editors the opportunity to find experts to cover important areas of response left untouched by the lectures. The resultant book is a compilation of responses that represent a wide variety of attitudes towards environmental matters and the idea of sustainable development. The core of the book is preceded by an introductory section which gives an outline of the science of the environmental threats involved, a history of environmentalism and an overview of the World Commission's objectives and recommendations.