This article analyses the interrelations between environment, employment and technology in the process of development. A new concept of sustainable development is introduced which makes a distinction between environmental problems associated with high income levels and technological progress and those related to underdevelopment and technological stagnation. The latter category accounts for a major proportion of environmental problems facing poor agrarian economies which are undergoing a process of forced environmental degradation. It is argued that in these types of economies there is a complementarity between economic development and employment generation and the preservation of the environment. It is further shown that in such economies, where the ultimate causes of environmental degradation may be far removed from the immediate environmental issues, conventional environmental policies may be counterproductive.