Petition of the Bolivian Civil Society to Increase the Climate Ambition of the Plurinational State of Bolivia

FROM THE EDITORS: This is an English translation of a communiqué signed by over 45 organizations in Bolivia, previous to the election, seeking commitment from the new Bolivian government towards climate justice policies.
Source:, translated by Awasqa

The warning of science is clear. If we do not leave fossil fuels underground and preserve marine ecosystems and forests, the planetary thermal regulation system will irreversibly collapse.

Bolivia is a country highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and historically it is not amongst the countries with highest Greenhouse Gases (GHG) emissions. However, the scale of the planetary climate emergency requires an urgent rethinking of the national development model, which—until today—has been based on extractivism, agribusiness, and the deterioration of natural resources, attacking and undermining the rights and the life of indigenous, native and peasant peoples.

The fires that this year hit the Chiquitanía, Chaco, and Bolivian Amazon regions are an example of the implementation of development policies that benefit a few to the detriment of the majority, causing irreversible damage to Mother Earth, the indigenous populations and peoples.

If we continue on this unbridled path, guided by the capitalist development model, designed to protect and promote polluting activities and the accumulation of profits of transnational corporations and oligarchic national elites, GHG emissions will not only increase, but will also worsen economic and social inequalities, degrading our livelihoods, leaving us more vulnerable and unprotected in the face of increasingly frequent, intense and unpredictable climatic impacts.

Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are commitments that member countries of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have voluntarily committed to after signing the Paris Agreement, with the objective of reducing the emission of greenhouse gases. These commitments must be proposed in a participatory manner, according to national realities, and must focus on mitigation actions, as well as include commitments on adaptation, financing, and technological innovation of economic and social models.

The scientific community has issued warnings that with all the contributions countries have committed to until now, the objective defined in the Paris Agreement will not be achieved. That is, to prevent the increase in the global average temperature of the planet from exceeding 2ºC compared to pre-industrial levels and promote additional efforts that make it possible for global warming not to exceed 1.5ºC.

The Contributions Determined at the National level should express a real commitment by nations to stop the increase in temperature through real and effective solutions that, in the short term, mean a reduction in GHG emissions and, at the same time, contribute to reduce inequalities and achieve a just transition for the most vulnerable communities.

The national energy policy under the slogan of “Converting Bolivia into the energy center of South America”, in addition to being unfeasible, is linked to the power of large transnational companies, the construction of mega-dams in the Amazon and the promotion of ethanol production and biodiesel, linked to the expansion of the agricultural frontier, destruction of forests for the development of monocultures of sugarcane, soybeans, and sorghum, which are false solutions to climate change.

The opening of the Chinese market for the export of meat and the agricultural policy only benefits large ranchers and landowners who are responsible for most of the deforestation, land grabbing, and displacement of local and indigenous communities. The agricultural sector is the culprit responsible for emissions from livestock and land exploitation.

The commitments made by Bolivia put the vitality of ecosystems at risk throughout its territory, will increase national emissions, generate more economic and social injustices, and increase the vulnerability of local communities that already face the direct impacts of these activities.

Bolivia, while continuing to demand the payment of the historical debt from developed countries, must commit itself that any payment of the historical debt should only be used to face the historical social inequalities in the country, which means, among others:

  • Assume responsibility to protect ecosystems, particularly forests, avoiding private land grabbing and dangerous market mechanisms, and integrating the proposals of communities that face the impacts of extractive policies and climate change.
  • Assume that the devastation of territories, as a result of the 2019 fires, should be the subject of an open dialogue with the participation of national and international scientists for the definition of restoration and/or recovery actions, for the benefit of the affected communities and, in particular, of the indigenous peoples of the region. These populations are in a clear process of disappearance having lost their livelihoods.
  • Generate and promote new development approaches and models that allow adapting and innovating agro-ecological-based production processes in both highland and lowland communities that suffer the impacts of climate change and mining activities.
  • Promote an energy model for the transformation of the energy matrix to clean and sustainable energies, on a local scale, focused on meeting local needs and with participatory management and governance models.
  • Promote gender and generational justice as a basis for territorial alternatives in the countryside and in the city.  

For this reason, the undersigned organizations demand:

A process of participatory and transparent construction of new Nationally Determined Contributions that are the reflection of a new energy and productive model that, at the same time, promotes economic social justice and balance with Mother Earth.

The State must adopt policies for the protection of individual and collective rights, for the effective conservation of ecosystems and the promotion of local alternatives and with local administration, recovering the knowledge and recognizing the ancestral legacy of the cultures of the Andean, Eastern, Chaco, and Amazonian regions of Bolivia.