Dispute over the visions, actors and strategies around development has crystallised on several fronts against the backdrop of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In a setting defined by unstable alliances, nation-states, large cities, municipalities, the private sector, civil society, academia and international development cooperation actors all compete for greater influence. What is at stake is global impact on policy in terms of vision, orientation and funding, among other issues. The 2030 Agenda is not a new way of measuring development in terms of setting new goals and indicators. On the contrary, it represents a critical vision that questions the sustainability of development and that notoriously demands that changes be made. However, the real chances of changing the development paradigm are hamstrung by certain actors repeating old schemes. This divergence –sometimes explicit, sometimes less so– occurs in a global arena shaped by power relations, differing forms of action and resource inequality. The prevailing institutional framework remains in place, but another is emerging. Local societies and government institutions seek to make a new model of society a reality. But actors with growing symbolic and real power are emerging. Their actions generate changes that clash with the vision of local societies legitimated by democratic mechanisms.