At the European level, the sustainable development strategy, the energy and climate change package, and the procedure of "impact assessment" of major EU initiatives are good examples of the integration of sustainable development into the daily life of the European Union. Sustainable development has passed from a conceptual idea to an operational reality. Sustainable development has been subject to scientific, technological and, more and more, socio-economic research and studies. Sustainability hinges on whether one can find a new model of development that reconciles profit, people and the planet. Here, EU research deals with long-term issues and with the need to support a post-carbon and knowledge-based society. This publication draws upon presentations and discussion at the "Sustainable development: A challenge for European research" conference that was held in Brussels in May 2009. It focuses on the role of the Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities within European research and which is directed at creating more wealth while consuming fewer resources.