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Economy > Investment, Competition and Stability

Social and economic investment is essential to achieving sustainable development. Much existing infrastructure and many existing practices are unsustainable, and investment will be needed to replace them. Investment in a sustainable future requires the development of skills needed for a productive workforce and competitive economy, and increased participation in lifelong learning across society, in addition to the protection of our natural resources and natural environments. To promote this kind of investment, an international as well as national investment regime will be needed, with flows of foreign investment into the UK in addition to Government development assistance.

A broad spectrum of political opinion now accepts that the best way to achieve investment in a sustainable future is through competition. In the UK, the Government is developing a set of competitiveness indicators: the Competitiveness Index. Indicators of competitiveness may include the level of available human, technological and natural capital, levels of innovation and entrepreneurship, and economic stability. Maintenance of a stable economy in particular, without the swings of boom and bust and their social repercussions is essential to a successful sustainable development strategy.

Progressively reducing pressures on the environment and natural resources is part of the competitiveness challenge. Business needs to create more value with less impact: seizing opportunities to innovate and to enhance competitiveness through better use of physical, human and financial resources, while meeting growing customer demand for more environmentally and socially acceptable goods and services. The term 'eco-efficiency' is sometimes applied to such an approach. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development has identified key elements of eco-efficiency, including reducing the materials intensity of goods and services, enhancing recyclability and durability of goods and reducing dispersion of toxic substances.