Rapid industrialisation in Asia is generating a significant new demand for raw materials and pressure on local, regional and global environments. In the future these demands and pressures are expected to increase markedly. These concerns are models of development that assume that economic growth follows a pattern leading to a convergence between the structure, growth and productivity of economies over the long run. In these models, the structure of industries and sectors, technological capabilities and consumer preferences are regarded as converging towards patterns established in more advanced economies. By extension, convergence is also assumed to hold for the resource intensity and environmental pressure associated with growth in industrialising countries. This paper argues for greater attention to the resource and environmental quality of development. It argues that by applying ideas from an emerging literature on 'systems innovation' it becomes possible to envisage the emergence of new, more resource-efficient socio-technical systems as the basis of more sustainable development pathways in developing Asia. Such sustainable socio-technical systems will emerge in the context of interaction between domestic and globalised markets, knowledge flows and governance. Key issues for a research agenda are set out. © 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.