Human-induced environmental degradation is reaching unprecedented levels. Human societies must change course and steer away from critical tipping points in the earth system that might lead to rapid and irreversible change, while ensuring sustainable livelihoods for all. This requires a fundamental transformation of existing practices. If we are to achieve more sustainable development in the future, we have to reorient and restructure our national and international institutions and governance mechanisms. The 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development must become a major stepping stone towards introducing a stronger institutional framework for sustainable development. This policy brief urges decision makers to seize this opportunity to develop a clear and ambitious roadmap for institutional change and bring about fundamental reform of current sustainability governance within the next decade. This brief outlines the core areas needing most urgent action.