In 2017 the United Nations declared 2019–2028 to be the Decade of Family Farming in an attempt to popularize it as a factor in achieving sustainable development in rural areas and create pro-family farming policies. In Bulgaria agriculture is still the main source of livelihood for local people in these areas which faces a number of challenges such as recession, risk of depopulation, aging population, etc. Along with these issues European funding is available, as well as support from NGOs that import ideas and models for sustainable development.
The article aims to outline and analyze rural livelihood strategies based on the sustainable use of natural resources. It examines traditional rural livelihood – agriculture along with other activities – the development of guest houses and alternative tourism as attempts to transition to multifunctionality and post-productivism in the Bulgarian rural areas. The study follows Ian Scoones’ sustainable livelihoods framework which includes 5 elements – context, conditions and trends; livelihood resources; institutional process and organizational structures; livelihood strategies; and sustainable livelihood outcomes. Family as a human resource also plays a significant role in building, sustaining and developing livelihoods. The research argues that there is a discrepancy between the ideas which the NGOs are trying to implement as models for sustainable rural development and the real results that people archive in their attempts to build sustainable livelihoods.
Keywords: sustainability, sustainable development, rural areas, livelihoods, European policies, NGOs