Satya Development International LLC (SDI) was founded on the belief that sustainable development can only be achieved if key people, bright ideas, and appropriate actions are brought together in innovative ways. In 1973 when SDI founder Michael Brown spent a student year abroad in fifteen African countries living among Pygmies, Masai, Tuareg, Fulani, Kapsiki, Ibo and other African peoples, “Development” was a lofty program that was being conceived and delivered by experts from afar. Development would surely lift Africans from poverty. The challenge appeared technical, and hope was abundant. Only financial resources, technical expertise and time appeared to be limiting factors.
To the surprise of many in the field, results and sustainable impacts did not follow readily as anticipated. We believe two key questions remain unanswered: How, and where, do beneficiaries fit into the design and implementation process? And what mechanisms and skillsets will enable communities to work together well with government, the private sector and NGOs to achieve results and impacts that will reduce poverty sustainably in both resource abundant landscapes and less endowed regions?Facilitating functional stakeholder relationships that enable solid design and implementation of conservation and development activities, coupled with successful adaptive management, is a primary SDI practice area. We believe that fundamental to achieving this, the range of barriers to meaningful public participation in civic life and development planning must also seriously addressed. This applies to companies seeking to act corporately responsible in promoting community development, NGOs who champion community rights and livelihod security, and donors who conceptualize large conservation and development programs.