Acting locally, thinking globally is the motto adopted by the Sustainable Development policies agreed at international conferences since the 80´s in the 20th century. Local development strategies seek to invert this process, that is, to think locally and to act globally. What is at stake concerning local development is the possibility that the diversity of actions may become a way to insure social participation in organizations and entities.

From this point of view, the idea of local development is not opposed to global development. Local development has the purpose of integrating with the global, but its strategic resources should be considered locally. The focus shall always be community or social group, and its organization in the environment.

Local development seeks to emphasize local initiatives, and to consider them as important parts of the development process, because they arise spontaneously following the needs and aspirations of communities. To develop locally is only possible when we think in terms of encouraging the participation of groups according to their own ways of organizing, in particular their positive and effective contribution to a wider perspective on development.

The local development notion intensifies the participation of community development agents, and expands the power of their actions and of other social organizations in the decision-making process.

Local development acts as a way of recovering or renewing social structures such as associations in general, cooperative associations, municipal and state government bodies and non-governmental organizations whose actions will revert in favor of local issues. Local development projects are based on culture, nature and local ethical and ideological values. What is at stake is the sustainability of these projects and initiatives, the possibility of creating solid and lasting foundations by embracing the belief that global initiatives are built from small local ones. In the long run, the qualifications developed at each region will become the only source of competitive advantage, opening the way to the progress and success of these initiatives.

Often mistaken for endogenous development, local development may actually happen from an endogenous point of view ; or from an exogenous one. There are also development agents, either from the community itself or from outside, that are in tune with the community and who bring their knowledge to it. This is why there is globally a great concern with community development agent training programs. This training is an attempt to exchange experiences and knowledge that will generate new actions.

It is also a kind of non-formal education, congregating different social subjects to interact together for a common goal. Environmental education, often conducted in non-formal educational spaces and using a socio-environmental perspective, seeks to reach the local knowledge embedded in cultural manifestations.

Local development projects generate the material conditions needed for the coexistence of multiple development models. This diversity of development processes arises from local needs and interests as well as from their ability to articulate with global interests. Therefore, each location, community, municipality or area may choose a development process, which respects its specific values (cultural, natural, ethic, moral) and enables a larger participation in the global development process.

endogenous – "valuing and stimulating spontaneous and preexisting forms of social organization."

exogenous - "encouraging and helping local associations and entities capable of organizing the community so as to make better use of its human and social resources."