This papers asks two questions. First, is the implementation process of sustainable development programs indeed a top-down process, whereby countries try to implement Agenda 21 or supra-national guidelines derived from global concerns? Second, what role can planners play in promoting sustainable development programs? An in-depth analysis of the seemingly unlikely Israeli case suggests that the content, processes and role of environmental planning have been transformed amidst a multi-faceted crisis. Without political support, well-placed planners have managed to attach significant environmental clauses to most major plans prepared since 1990 (when the crisis erupted). While these measures do not amount to a sustainable development program, significant steps toward such a program have been made. On the basis of this case study, as well as some supporting evidence from Europe, it is argued that the main decisions are made at the national level, exploiting country-specific policy windows. At this level planners can take an active role as policy entrepreneurs in linking problems, actions and political opportunities at propitious moments to promote sustainable development policies.