One challenge is to develop integrated approaches to planning and analysis. A key constraint to the emergence of strong sustainability institutions is the fragmentation of research into disciplines, government units into sectors, and so on. Designing frameworks for linking across subjects and sectors, over various spatial scales, regions and themes, to give a more integrated perspective, is becoming essential to a full understanding of the planetary and human environments.
This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities. Agenda 21 recommends intensifying research to integrate the physical, economic and social sciences so as to understand better the impact of economic and social behaviour on the environment and of environmental degradation on local and global economies.