CI-Bolivia's model for working with municipalities and indigenous communities has demonstrated success in developing green economies while conserving important biodiverse regions. Initial successes will be amplified to other municipalities and to the national level for the benefit of all Bolivians.
The Madidi and Pilon Lajas protected areas, spanning 2.29 million hectares and an altitudinal range of more than 5.5 km, constitute one of the most biodiverse and spectacular protected regions on the planet. They provide essential ecosystem services such as water, food and income to rural and indigenous populations, and form the basis for a rich cultural life. These protected areas also contribute to climate stability at the local and global levels.
The municipalities of Apolo, Ixiamas, Rurrenabaque and San Buenaventura include indigenous lands belonging to the Uchupiamona, T'simane Mosetene, Tacana, Araona and Leco peoples. CI-Bolivia has worked in this region over the last decade strengthening territorial management, promoting green economies and developing local capacities for sustainable use of natural resources.
CI-Bolivia recently completed land-use plans for these municipalities and "life plans" for three indigenous lands. Life plans are created by the community to determine how decisions will be made about natural resource use. Both land-use and life plans are tools for integrated land management for sustainable development, based on the local cultural vision.
CI promotes green economies in the region, strengthening municipal and indigenous organizations' capacities, encouraging public policy design for sustainable development, and supporting environmentally friendly activities such as ecotourism, cacao and palm.
Examples of these efforts are the Chalalan and San Miguel del Bala ecolodges that now contribute to conserving the forest while providing employment for local residents, and the Pilon Lajas protected area that produces high-quality gourmet chocolate ready for market. More than 50,000 residents have benefited from such activities that capture the ecosystem service value of these protected areas.
IN DEPTH: Learn more about ecotourism.
The progress made in the last few years reflects a vision for development that combines the dreams and needs of indigenous and municipal stakeholders with the area's natural endowment and heritage. CI-Bolivia's goal is to further strengthen municipal governments to demonstrate the viability of green economic development, which can later be replicated in other parts of the country and eventually amplified to the national level. As the award-winning UNDP publication "The Other Frontier" suggests, green economies are possible, but they are most successful when a municipality supports, coordinates, and leads development.
CI and the Federation of Municipal Associations (FAM) will work together to create sustainable development offices in four municipalities in the region. These offices will coordinate, monitor, and promote green economy initiatives; attract municipal financing; provide technical assistance to green businesses and to the "greening" of agriculture; train leaders and local enterprises; facilitate access to information and markets; administer initiatives to avoid deforestation; prioritize public investment that favors green development; and ensure self-sustainability.
FEATURE: Building a Green Economy
CI and FAM will also continue to provide technical input into efforts to drive green development policies and norms at the municipal level. This input will come from CI's successful track record working in these four municipalities and from a research program on ecosystem services that is being developed in alliance with the Program of Strategic Research in Bolivia.
The purpose of the research is to demonstrate the benefits of ecosystem services to human well-being in Bolivia. It will include measurement and quantification of ecosystem services that can be included in national reporting through "green accounting," as well as indicators to evaluate advances toward green development at the municipal level.
CI-Bolivia is also working with national and international academic partners to develop an interactive, didactic tool entitled "The REDD Game" that will facilitate participation by municipal and civil society leaders in the design of fair and effective policies that reduce deforestation and poverty in forest communities.
LEARN MORE: REDD+