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Are we any closer to sustainable development? Listening to active stakeholder discourses of tourism development in the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve, South Africa.‘Biosphere reserve’ is a United Nations (UN) designation stipulating that a region should attempt to follow the principles of sustainable development (SD). This paper adopts a stakeholder analysis framework to analyse the discourses of those tourism stakeholders who can actively affect SD in the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve (WBR), South Africa. Adopting an inductive qualitative methodology generated multiple research themes which were subsequently analysed using critical discourse analysis (CDA) techniques. These themes indicate that seeking SD in biosphere reserves is problematical when there are distinct ideological differences between active stakeholder groups and power relations are unequal. Adopting CDA allows us to make some sense of why this is the case as the technique appreciates not only how tourism development occurs, but also why it occurs in a particular way. This paper adds to the literature on stakeholder analysis in tourism specifically and also has wider implications for SD more generally.