A high-level overview of the discipline of sustainable development is presented, aimed at providing the context and setting for research on and applications of sustainable development, in this lead article to a new journal. The status of sustainable development and its progress are described, as are challenges and needs that may impact its development. Definitions of sustainable development and its interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary dimensions are discussed and contrasted with single-discipline approaches. Examples of interpretations and needs for sustainable development are provided from such fields as energy, resource management, and engineering. Attitudes towards sustainable development are investigated, as is progress. Finally, an illustrative case study is described of a large sustainable development initiative, comprised of several integrated measures and activities.