||Sustainable development has been defined as development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It has been the subject of increasing discussion and debate during the last two decades. This article presents a brief survey of the overall problems inhibiting sustainable development, and outlines their impact in both developed and developing areas. The different phasing, magnitude and spectrum of problems to be faced in each area are emphasized. The article then discusses relevant policy and generic planning issues, and the need for policies and decision-making tools which can begin to cope with the uncertainties involved. While a range of approaches is needed to cope with the problems concerned, it is argued that universities in both the developed and developing world have a special role and responsibility in contributing to the challenge of sustainable development. .