Development Alternatives is a non-profit organization engaged in research and action for sustainable development. It was established in 1983 and is registered under the Societies Registration Act with the Government of India. Development Alternatives believes that ‘development’, being a dynamic process, is all about evolving inter-relationships between social and environmental factors, particularly interactions between nature, machines, institutions and people. The activities of Development Alternatives Group broadly cover the three primary areas that underlie any form of sustainable development process: the design and large-scale dissemination of appropriate technologies, environmental management systems and effective people-oriented institutions and policies.
Development Alternatives and its associate organisations operate on the philosophy that sustainable development benefits not only the economy, but also the environment and above all - the people. The Development Alternatives Group is therefore,
dedicated to bring about a better balance between the basic prerequisites of sustainable development: social equity, environmental quality and economic efficiency.
Development Alternatives believes that the key to achieve this is through the creation of sustainable livelihoods in large numbers and that will be the basis for a better future. It will also fulfil the prime need of creating job opportunities and self-employment opportunities. Jobs that provide a decent income and give meaning and dignity to life, produce goods and services for the local market, do not destroy the environment or the resource base, but bring the poor and downtrodden, the women and the marginalised into the mainstream.
To create sustainable livelihoods in reasonably large numbers, it is necessary to introduce innovative technologies to raise productivity and create innovative institutions to achieve the widespread dissemination of environment friendly processes and technologies. Development Alternatives has pioneered many such innovations and has evolved a range of appropriate technologies and institutional mechanisms that can accelerate the creation of sustainable livelihoods. Such technologies and institutions are generally small in scale, decentralised, people-friendly and minimise waste, pollution and the use of non-renewable resources. Thus the Development Alternatives Group is today a responsible and reliable source for innovative sustainable development products and services.
Dedicated to the principle that any sustainable strategy must be largely self-financing, the technologies and institutional forms designed by Development Alternatives rely on the use of good science and effective management methods. Economically viable, environmentally sound and socially relevant technology packages and management systems are developed and demonstrated for widespread delivery of products and services at decentralised scale. These technologies and market-based systems are basically designed to serve the interests of all, especially the rural artisan, cottage based micro-entrepreneur, micro enterprises, small industries, farmers and landless labourers and not merely the rich and powerful. Customisation has enabled external commercial partners to adopt these technologies and promote them in a commercial environment.
The Development Alternatives Group develops models for mass dissemination of sustainable technologies through network partners to demonstrate the feasibility of its models. This operates mainly at two levels – identifying partners that can act as multipliers and designing mass dissemination models around them (these “agents of change” cover a wide variety – government agencies, NGO’s, technology promoters, and other institutions): the second level of operation is providing critical inputs to the agents of change in order to maximise their effectiveness and impact. These inputs range from design, technical information and support, training packages to promotional films and network linkages. Concentrated effort has been on the design and implementation of networks of development NGOs and micro-enterprises that are self-financing and income-generating.