Sustainable Development, From Idea to Practice: A Case Study of an NGO in Cochabamba, Bolivia

University essay from Lunds universitet/Institutionen för kulturgeografi och ekonomisk geografi; Lunds universitet/Humanekologi

Abstract: Sustainable development is a concept that can be interpreted and understood in many different ways. Given that the concept in itself does not provide specific guidance to what is to be achieved, how or when, actors who claim to work with sustainable development needs to know what sustainable development is to them. NGO’s are seen as one group of many actors who are responsible of implementing sustainable development. This thesis contributes to the understanding of how NGO’s understand sustainable development and how they turn this understanding to practical results. It does so through an in-depth empirical case study of one NGO – Sustainable Bolivia. Data gathered through participatory research is analyzed through the lenses of Complexity theory and the theory of Multiple rationales. Field notes, interviews with the Founder of the NGO, their website, strategic documents and minutes from a workshop constitutes data sources for this research. The results of this thesis shows that the organization transforms their idea of sustainable development to practice through the process of building relations and capitalizing on networks by taking different roles and applying multiple rationalities. Furthermore, the results of this research shows that the NGO understands the idea of sustainable development as (a) something practical rather than theoretical, (b) as something that does not need to be defined in detail in order to be understood and as (c) sustainability, as they avoid using the word development.

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