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20 years after the 1992 Rio Summit we seem to have finally come full circle. The framework presented by Paul Crutzen and his colleagues underlines that whatever we do in a system which for all intents and purposes is a close circuit, will eventually resurface, and usually in forms that we find more difficult to deal with than the original act of dumping emissions or waste. However, our thoughts about sustainability should also focus more on the issue of accountability to each other, between individuals and organisations. Our research at the One World Trust on issues of accountability in research, global governance and the transformation of ideas about national sovereignty (for more information see www.oneworldtrust.org) shows that many of the most powerful actors are not yet sufficiently set up to even recognise how they affect others with their decisions, let alone offer them a channel to be held to account. For sustainable development to be realised at global scale, not just the boundaries of the planet to further endure humanity will need to be defined and respected, but also the principles of mutual accountability, especially from those who have power over the lives of many who are on the receiving end of environmental degradation.