The United Kingdom (UK) is at the vanguard of European Union (EU) states pursuing strategies for sustainable development (SD). It has a long history of environmental policy coordination dating from the early 1990s, and in 1994 it became the first EU member to publish a SD strategy. This paper charts the development of the UK's successive SD strategies. It demonstrates that the pursuit of SD has been increasingly supported by apparent high-level political backing and an expansive array of administrative processes, mechanisms and tools. However, despite this favourable environment, the analysis in this paper shows that SD, to date, has not significantly influenced UK policy making. Progress has been particularly hampered by: inconsistency in the government's definition of SD; questions over whether political backing is sustained and committed; and poor integration between the different administrative mechanisms, tools and processes to pursue SD. Consequently, SD is struggling to make headway against the dominance of traditional economic concerns in UK decision making.