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What is sustainable local development?

desarrollo, sustentable, sostenible

Sustainable development is a process of progressive change in the quality of life of people, making them the center and main subject of development through economic growth with social justice, the transformation of production methods and production patterns, the ecological balance and the vital support of the region.

This process requires respect for regional, national and local ethnic and cultural diversity, as well as the empowerment and full participation of citizens in harmonious coexistence with nature, without compromising and ensuring the quality of life of future generations.

Sustainable local development focuses on seeking to improve the quality of life of people at the local level. It is based on the real role of people (families, children, producers, local organizations and institutions).

For sustainable local development to become a reality, the community must set its own goals, have confidence in the strength of the community itself, value and affirm culture as well as its own traditional knowledge and autonomous forms of coexistence.

The individualistic culture of commercial competition, low self-esteem, political and economic dependence on central institutions and external actors, and lack of trust in the administrative capacity of the community are, among other things, obstacles to sustainable local development.

Self-management and associativity

The real protagonism of people and communities in different spaces and areas is essential to promote development processes with increased impact on the satisfaction of needs. In this sense, self-employment is a form of equal interdependence that promotes participation in decision-making, social creativity, political autonomy, equitable distribution of wealth and tolerance of diversity of identities.

The strategy for sustainable local development includes the individual and collective ownership of common problems, as well as the creation of participation and consultation organizations (agreement between different actors who assume shared responsibility).

The joint management of resources and their rational use are part of the strategy, as is the promotion of the exercise of local power (if necessary in the communities, regiments and townships).

The resources for local development are those of the soil, vegetation, infrastructure, industry, institutions, local organizations, economic activities of the locality and the specialized personnel that the municipality has or has access to. Other important resources include experience in community management and the ability to develop a culture of local power.

The actors who intervene in the process are the existing public institutions in the municipality, the mayors, the regional committees, the teachers, the natural community leaders, the schoolchildren. In addition, there are existing trade unions, trade unions, religious organizations and NGOs in the region whose orientation is related to sustainable community development.

Development and agroecology

There can be no development at the local human level in the midst of degraded agricultural, social and economic systems or basic natural resources in danger of extinction. The community needs to be clear about what is positive and what is negative for the natural environment. It is therefore necessary to promote technologies that adapt to the characteristics of each ecosystem to ensure the sustainability of natural resources for the future.

A community that does not defend its resources or protect the natural environment is unable to manage and improve its economy and life in the short, medium and long term. In this sense, agroecological practices are an essential element in maintaining the ecological living conditions of the community, as they enable the sustainability of water sources, soils, flora and fauna; essential to the survival of the basins and community territories.

Transformation of gender relations

Integrating women into community participation allows them to learn and share with men the responsibilities and experiences of the community in finding alternatives to solve their problems, which strengthens their self-esteem.

Community development promotes the participation of women, as they are currently responsible for reproduction in the family: nutrition, customs of cooperation, solidarity and responsibility for the home. Managing shared community development allows men to recognize the equality and capability of women in a new relationship that is not conditioned by gender or gender culture. The emancipation of women, the change in men’s sexist identities as well as peace and cooperation at home enable the development of communal and solidarity values

By Galo Munoz Arce

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