The main provisions of sustainable development were formulated at the World Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Sustainable development was endorsed as the main long-term ideology of societal development. The concept of sustainable development is based upon three pillars of equal importance: environmental protection, economic development and social development. Agenda 21, an action programme for the implementation of sustainable development, and declaration were adopted in Rio de Janeiro. It sets out the main principles of sustainable development.
Methods of sustainable development for developed and developing countries differ. If very rapid population growth, poverty, gender inequality and inadequate systems of education and medicine are typical for developing countries, developed countries mostly face such problems as excessive consumption of natural resources and environmental pollution. However, both the developed and the developing countries (except for those devastated by war or natural disasters) are developing according to the pattern of natural evolution and their economies as well as welfare are growing, although at different paces.
The Lithuanian National Strategy for Sustainable Development was approved by Resolution No 1160 of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania in 2003 (updated in 2009) stipulating that the Strategy implementation reports shall be drafted every two years. There are reports prapared for the periods of: 2003-2004, 2005-2007, 2008-2010 and 2011-2012. The main objective of sustainable development in Lithuania is to achieve, by 2020, the development level of EU countries of 2003, according to the indicators of economic and social development as well as to the efficiency in consumption of resources, and to stay within the EU's permissible limits, according to the indicators of environmental pollution, while meeting the requirements of international conventions to minimize environmental pollution and input into global climate change. The implementation of strategy is measured by sustainable development indicators (environmental quality: air and climate change, landscape and biological diversity, waste management, economic development: transport, industry, energy, agriculture, housing, tourism, social development: employment, poverty and social exclusion, public health, education and science, preservation of cultural identity, sustainable consumption and territorial development).
Since 2004 national indicators on sustainable development are being published in separate section of Statistical Yearbook of Lithuania and on the websites of Lithuania Statistics and Ministry of Environment.