The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Luis Gabriel Alba

Luis recounts experiences of studying MSc Environment and Sustainable Development at the Development Planning Unit

Luis Gabriel Alba

With a BSc in business administration and after spending four years in front of a computer at Citigroup in Bogotá, on dull spreadsheets measuring the value of companies without a real impact in life and no fulfilling passion, I decided to take a swirl in my professional life.

Such experience, nonetheless, built a number of skills that I have been using ever since: attention to detail; prioritization and planning; and working independently with a high degree of responsibility and with zero supervision. Yet, there was something missing so I decided to choose the path for an ineffable inner-call: the environment.

The year at the DPU has been undoubtedly the best in my life: the people one meets, the intellectual and personal growth one reaches… the ESD programme had the capacity to ‘unlock my hidden value’ and I will be grateful for that for the rest of my years to come. My dissertation focused on alternative development and aimed to create a framework to offset the problem that high patterns of consumption impose over environmental sustainability.

I firmly assert that personal and spiritual growth are the true path to reach environmental sustainability but it will take a long time for humanity to realize this and reach a higher level; thus, renewable energy arose as the answer to ‘buy’ some time. Personal growth has to be developed in parallel, and that I’m working on by writing a paper based on my dissertation that will be published in The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability once the editors and publishers approve the final version.

Whereas for energy, I organized and facilitated an event in Bogotá with Amory Lovins and I’m conducting an internship in south India focused in social entrepreneurship for the distribution of renewable energy products. This experience combines both worlds I’ve been involved with: I have seen the potential and implementation of biomass and solar-fuelled appliances but the day-to-day still has a business perspective involved. I am contributing in the field I want but I realized that I enjoy interacting in a multidisciplinary team, researching, and writing high quality reports; all these abilities gained in the Masters. That is the challenge now!

The DPU undoubtedly shaped me and thought me vastly. My career path is more defined now after gaining insights of the world, its institutions, organizations and power relations. There is room for manoeuvre if we want to make a positive impact!

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