For over 42 years CDSA has been working with an emphasis placed on decentralisation, participatory decision making where Gramsabhas and Wards Committees are primary statutory decision-making bodies at district, block and urban local body level. The institute became well known for its pioneering work in decentralized planning, micro-level planning, and watershed management. The institute has carried out policy analysis for the World Bank, United Nations, various central ministries of the Government of India, the Government of Sri Lanka, the Royal Government of Bhutan, the Asian Development Bank and various countries in Asia. CDSA has been a pioneer in creating generic methodologies for urban, rural and regional training, decision support and planning.