The challenge of capacity development from the perspective of good living or sustainable development

The challenge of capacity development from the perspective of good living or sustainable development

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By Rodrigo Arce Rojas

It should be recognized that all people have different degrees of knowledge, aptitudes, and skills and this is true for both the "trainers" and the "trained." These learning elements are acquired through formal, informal and non-formal spaces and modalities in which the daily work, family or social life has an important place. These processes are favored when the opportunities offered by the experiences advance towards more systematic processes of reflection, verbalization and socialization.

As important as learning by doing is doing by learning, that is, finding new elements that allow a better understanding of reality and the generation of proposals for positive change. Only in this way can we overcome polarized positions when it comes to recognizing a wide spectrum of learning possibilities. In this same direction we will be able to advance towards organizational cultures that learn.

If we recognize capacity development as a system we have to recognize what its components are. First, clarify that capacity development is not synonymous with training. Capacity development considers training as one of its components, but other elements such as technical assistance, advice, information, communication and support are also incorporated. This last term should not be understood in the sense of physical company only, if not the possibility of living together and learning about practice.

Capacity development values ​​the experiences, knowledge, questions, concerns and doubts of each of the actors present in the interactive process of joint construction. That is why it is important to point out that the capacity development process involves knowing how to manage our own learning from our life experience. So, figuratively, we can say that each person is a walking school as we could speak of school organizations if its members propose it to do so.

Incorporating a systems approach into the capacity development process implies consequence. That implies that it expands the possibility that you do not stay only in the narrow possibilities from your condition of actor, your political-administrative referent or your economic interest. You need to look at the whole, its joints and its interactions. Only in this way is it possible to incorporate systemic approaches, a basin management perspective and a landscape ecology perspective, to recognize oneself as part of a larger system (which can be the country or humanity, as the case may be).

Now, to speak of capacity development is a function of the degree of approach to large fields or categories of knowledge. As, in practice, not everyone shares closeness and familiarity with these fields of knowledge, then we have to recognize that people will have greater or lesser specific capacities according to their life experience. For example, it is possible that a farmer does not know about laws or a specialist in law does not know about techniques to combat crop pests in an organic way. As we are all part of the same cultural system, then we recognize that we all need to develop our capacities in those thematic categories that increase the potential for well-being of people and with repercussions on the collective. In view of this, we could think of a system in which both “trainers and trained” contribute to the whole. Now it is possible to overcome the dichotomy "trainers and trained" because in practice these roles can and should be interchangeable and we rather enter into the inter-learning processes.

Accepting the relevance of capacity development, we then went on to explore aspects related to its main objectives. This is absolutely pertinent as we have to have a very clear articulation between the development of people, institutional development, community development, regional development, national development and good living / sustainable development in general. We have to clearly delineate the scope of our capacity development process because it depends on how we are going to organize the contents, structures, processes and methodologies. This does not mean recognizing that we can develop capacity programs that articulate the aforementioned hierarchy of objectives.

Another entry to analyze capacity development is if they contribute to the development of people, institutional development or the development of capacities so that the person in question can perform better in their work or organizational center, in the case of public servants, for example, the objective may be raised in terms of providing citizens with quality public services, but it could also be posed in terms of how capacity development contributes to strengthening democracy, institutions, governability, governance or the management of good living or sustainable development. In practice, these objectives are not exclusive because personal development must lead to institutional development and good institutional development also implies better management of human talents and the fulfillment of institutional objectives. However, recognizing these articulations, again it is necessary to clearly indicate what are the scope that you can attribute to the capacity development program precisely to know what must be held accountable.

An old discussion refers to a dichotomy between meeting the actors' demand for capacity development and meeting the capacity development needs of the organizational or institutional environment in which the capacity development program is inscribed. Recognize that this tension originates from a series of premises that have been generated and still persist in the world of development. For example, the tensions between government from the top down or government from the bottom up, the rulers and the ruled, administrators and the administered. In this same logic, it is important to recognize the scope of participatory processes for the design, management and monitoring of capacity development processes. In this dynamic, participatory processes mean a process of dialogue and negotiation in which the actors involved reach agreements on the characteristics of the capacity development process.

The relevance of the participation factor in the capacity development process lies in the fact that in socio-diverse and pluricultural societies such as ours, where meanings, emotions, values, beliefs, visions, perspectives, interests, power relations, rights, histories, among Other elements, it is necessary to manage all this cultural energy so that the resulting capacity development program is the product of a negotiated process, this is a process in which the parties have deliberated and made decisions about the objectives, scope and characteristics of the process. This implies recognizing that capacity development processes do not mean legitimizing asymmetries and inequities or generating new dynamics of conflict. It is not a problem that there are differences or interests, the issue is how the actors organize themselves to process those differences. As a result of these dialogued and negotiated capacity development processes, it is located in a transformative perspective guided by principles of justice, equity and sustainability.

It is also important to recognize that high cultural diversity does not refer only to groups, as this diversity reaches within groups. A group or sector is not an absolutely homogeneous entity and therefore it is important to consider intercultural and intracultural perspectives. Each group with its particular way of learning and evaluating more systematic processes of capacity development.

As mentioned, information is part of capacity development. This is an especially important issue in societies where an oral culture prevails and limitations for access to the possibilities offered by information and communication technologies. With the amount of information that exists and with the impressive process of daily expansion of information, it is important not to fall into the anguish of having and mastering all the information, that is now impossible. What matters in the background is developing the ability to learn to learn. But it is also important to enter the arena of capacity development with enough humility to be able to deconstruct and unlearn, an openness necessary precisely to learn again and thus consolidate a spiraling but ascending learning scheme. It also means that I am capable of entering the process with the predisposition to resignify or resemanticize my beliefs, convictions and discourses.

In relation to information as a component of capacity development, we find various behaviors: those that produce information and those that consume information. Another way of putting it is those who seek information and those who are content with information that reaches them without effort or with minimal effort. Another typology indicates those who store the information and those who use the information. Others take a qualitative leap and produce knowledge based on the information they have or what they seek and obtain. The important thing is to realize that people who know how to manage information better have better possibilities to develop their capacities. Here we are not talking only about digitized information but about any source of information in which oral culture is also recognized.

The effectiveness of capacity building processes is not measured only by how much has been learned but also by the extent to which it is applied, to the extent to which new alternatives are innovatively recreated. The capacity development process is not complete if it is not accompanied by indicators that measure change at the performance level or at the impact level.

The processes of capacity development cannot be considered serious, stiff or boring, for this reason the importance of an ontological vision, of considering the person in his entirety as a body, as a mind, as a heart, as a spirit, as a physiology and as a word. That is why emotional aspects also take place. It is important that they are conceived as dynamic, flexible processes in which diversity is one of their main characteristics.

Much of our current training process has to do with preparing for the predictable and the unpredictable. We must still prepare for processes that are not yet clearly defined, for problems that do not yet exist. Great challenge of gaining temporal certainties for uncertain processes.

We all can and should be subjects of capacity development in this kind of interchangeable roles among actors, sometimes learning among peers, other times learning from the diverse and between the diverse. The development of capacities is a right and an obligation, which reconstructs their sense of co-responsibility in the management of good living or sustainable development. It is the possibility of deploying the entire set of faculties and potentialities of people so that based on dialogue and creativity they can generate processes of social harmony and coexistence with nature and the cosmos.

Video: World Association for Sustainable Development Training, Capacity Building and Consultancy Services (July 2022).


  1. Tagar

    You were not mistaken, truly

  2. Bodgan

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  3. Ethan

    what abstract thinking

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