This paper examines the potential for cultural policy to shape sustainable development in the context of expectations arising from research and policy work on development. We use, as the basis of a critique, the categorisation of the relationship between culture and sustainable development proposed by a major study funded by the European Union, being emblematical of how researchers and policymakers understand this relationship. The critique highlights a need for multiscalar social change, towards revaluing relations with the natural world, and reforming social relations between producers and consumers. This paper locates cultural policy as an arm of governance, with the capacity to lead social change across several interdependent pathways (revaluing technological change; fostering an aesthetic appreciation and environmental ethical consciousness; and pro-social behaviour) alongside the development of more sophisticated governance frameworks. The paper further proposes that through (re)education, cultural policy can and should play a more active role in shaping social change.