The proposed "integrative approach to sustainable development" is a central conceptual component of an exploratory project for a joint project - planned for a duration of three years - by the "Hermann-von-Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft of German Research Centres" (HGF). This is intended to produce knowledge for orientation and action in the implementation of sustainable development in Germany. The concept is based on a reception of the sustainability debate and seeks to contribute to upgrading the operationalisation of the vision of sustainability. It is directed towards the discourse on sustainability, principally towards science as an important actor in this discourse.
The most important characteristics of the proposed improvement of existing approaches can be described as follows: sustainability is operationalised in the ecological, social, economic and institutional dimensions. The starting points are not the limited perspectives on each individual dimension. Instead, three general goals of sustainability which transcend the dimensions are projected - in an integrative perspective - on to the dimensions and transmitted with the proprietary logic sets of the individual dimensions which are embodied in the various discourses. The result are operationalisations of both the general goals and the individual dimensions in the shape of "rules".
The proposed general goals of sustainability are "ensuring human existence", "preserving the potential of society for productivity", and "retaining possibilities for development and action". They represent both fundamental normative principles of equity of sustainability in the preservation and development dimensions and their most general analytical-functional premises. Intragenerational and intergenerational aspects of equity are viewed as being of equal rank in this context and are viewed from an anthropocentric perspective. The rules which have been derived from the goals have, after all, been con- ceived as globally applicable minimum requirements of sustainable develop- ment, which always require joint compliance. They are to serve for the further operationalisation of the concept of sustainability in particular contexts and also function as criteria for sustainability for actual societal development. A distinction is made between "what rules", which formulate substantial minimum requirements, and "how rules", characterising the ways of fulfilling these minimum requirements.