Keywords: institutions, indicators, assessment, sustainable development, governance, institutional sustainability, European Union
In the context of the conceptual and analytical discussion of operationalising sustainable development, institutional sustainability has so far not played a major role. The UN Commission for Sustainable Development decided in 1995 to develop indicators for assessing the progress which UN members had made with the implementation of Agenda 21. However, these indicators did not reflect the broader notion at institutions and neglected important institutional aspects that predetermine activities and policies. Yet, policy analysis showed that not just formal organisations help to support decision making. The paper explores the broader notion of institutions, including less formal, but powerful institutional structures and links them to sustainable development and good governance principles. The concluding section applies this approach to the European Union in order to assess, in general terms, the sustainability of its development and implications for the future structure of the EU.