Business strategy with regard to sustainability is currently dominated by an eco-efficiency approach that seeks to simultaneously reduce costs and environmental impacts using tactics such as waste minimization or reuse, pollution prevention or technological improvement. However, in practice, eco-efficiency optimization rarely results in improved diversity or adaptability and consequently may have perverse consequences to sustainability by eroding the resilience of production systems. This editorial article contrasts a resilience approach with an eco-efficiency approach as they relate to strategic sustainable development. In some cases, the system attributes that are critically important to resilience – such as spare capacity, reserve resource stocks and redundancy – are in opposition to eco-efficiency. Our most important insight is the realization that investments in what may seem counter to eco-efficiency can nonetheless be important for sustainability. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.