Environmental sustainability has a complex significance. It is both a theoretical concept and a practical challenge which implies a specific approach, allowing for concrete time and space circumstances. Romania, that experiences a stressful and often painful process of transition to the market economy, has to face important environmental challenges at the same time with great political, economic, social, organisational, cultural, behavioural ones. Therefore environmental preservation strategy is closely related to other components of the national strategy and reform - the sectoral strategies, the strategy of socio-economic regional development, the national physical plan and so on - that take into consideration environmental constraints too. Even though the integration of all these components was a major concern, it cannot be said that this has been really achieved. However, the development of the environmental preservation strategy is only a means to an end, implementation, monitoring and evaluation being also required. In this respect it is apparent that, whatever the importance of financing this strategy, the whole society's participation, as well as communication/information and adequate education are a corner stone for carrying out the proposed objectives. It is absolutely acknowledged that successful strategies are participatory; participation must be concieved in terms of both government ( national and local) and non-governmental actors (corporate sector, non-governmental organisations as well as direct involvement with communities and individuals). In order to carry out their specific functions these actors have to rely on an appropriate legal framework, economic instruments and mechanisms for mediation and conflict resolution. The committment of the participants involved as well as a conducive political and social climate are critical in a 'people-centred' approach to environmentally suatainable development strategy. Starting from these overall conditions this paper aims at highlighting the institutional and behavioural challenges to Romania's environmental preservation strategy, so as to answer questions as: to what extent is the Romanian society able to adapt to environmental change ? which are the mechanisms, the instruments that can be employed to face this change and to attain the objectives proposed? Without denying the role of technical change in such processes, this paper focuses on the need of real, radical changes not only in terms of institutional, legislative framework but also in terms of behaviour, mentalities, attitudes. In this context the environmental management decentralization and the role of local public administration and local communities are particularly addressed.