||This research explores critical environmental concepts from the standpoint of political ecology. It contrasts the Ecuadorian Kichua indigenous concept of Sumak Kawsay (i. e. , living well), with discourses about natural, urban and rural areas. Sumak Kawsay was included in Ecuador’s 2008 constitution as an alternative to the neoclassical idea of development. This work reveals interesting insights from a variety of social and political viewpoints from both rural and urban areas. The research is based on the medium sized city of Cuenca, which is located in the southern Ecuadorian Andes. We used an adaptation of the Q Method to investigate stakeholders’ perceptions. Four remarkably well-defined viewpoints were revealed. Although these views contrast strongly with Sumak Kawsay, it is possible to transform this paradigm in the foundation of Cuenca’s public policies and institutional structure.