Religion's role in development has generally been viewed with suspicion, if not indifference, in scholarly and institutional concerns with development planning and policy. The last two decades, however, mark a departure, with a burgeoning interest in religion as a category of analysis in development studies. In this paper, I address the religion–sustainable development nexus specifically, and argue that religion – for both its constructive and destructive potential – must be considered in the sustainable development agenda. Specifically, I identify three ways in which religion may play an important role in enabling sustainable development – through its values, through its potential for social and ecological activism and in the realm of self-development. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.