The Embassy of Sweden in Bolivia is preparing the Swedish development strategy for Bolivia for the period 2021-2025. The emphasis is upon supporting sustainable and diversified land use in Bolivia, within a context of climate change mitigation and adaptation.
FCG Sweden was contracted to provide a scoping study about entry points regarding relevant interventions and cooperation actors that are in line with the intended Swedish development strategy and the Embassy’s ambition for the period 2021-2025.
Multidimensional and integrated approach to address land degradation in Bolivia
Bolivia has a population of 11 million inhabitants, of which about 32% live in rural areas, with 36 recognized indigenous peoples constituting 41% of the population. Extreme poverty in Bolivia affects 17.3% of the population (as of 2015). Efforts to eradicate it need actions directed to fully developing the national economy and reducing the impacts of climate change.
Bolivia is the twelfth most biodiverse country in the world and is home to more than 2,194 species of amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles. 5.4% of these species are endemic and are not found in any other place in the world. About 50% of the total area of Bolivia (approximately 54,7 million hectares) is covered with forests.
The geography of Bolivia varies from the mountainous Andean landscape in the West to the tropical lowlands in the East, providing the geographical conditions for a large number of different types of forests. The north-eastern part of the country is mainly covered with humid lowland rainforest, which also constitutes the southern part of the Amazon rainforest.
Over the last few decades, Bolivia has been experiencing the negative effects of climate change, including irregular rain seasons, violent floods, severe droughts, melting glaciers, and more aggressive forest fires, in addition to accelerated forest loss, land use change, and land degradation.
Bolivia’s accelerated deforestation and land degradation is significant - in the period 1990-2015, forest loss was about 8 million ha (an average annual loss of 320,000 ha). Bolivia emphasizes land regularization in indigenous lands and individual landholdings, but under the notion of an expanding agricultural frontier (through land use change) that has been detrimental to forests.
The social and economic effects are evident, affecting the livelihoods of the most vulnerable populations. The challenges with deforestation in Bolivia are human rights and poverty related. Efforts towards sustainable and inclusive natural resource management must address the roots of the problems (i.e. weak governance and law enforcement) and the undervalued and underestimated role of forest ecosystems in a wider economic, social, and environmental context.
Results for the new Sweden-Bolivia collaboration strategy
The scoping study was planned to include field visits in Bolivia, with an initial visit being done to finalize the methodology. However, due to COVID-19, Bolivia closed all borders and banned all travel, making further field visits not possible - out of 15 planned days for field visits only 5 were carried out. To finalize the study despite this, a desk-study was conducted through Zoom meetings and document reviews.
The scoping study provided the embassy with:
1. Current status of land-use, forest management, and alternative sustainable models of income generation;
2. Assistance in the identification of potential intervention areas, with clear additionality for donor support focusing on Swedish aid priorities - taking into account Sida's aid instruments and modalities;
3. Identification and ranking of the most effective organizations (e.g. private, multilateral, NGOs) that Sida could engage as strategic partners to support sustainable land-use;
4. Recommendations for inclusion of sustainable land use in the future Swedish development strategy with Bolivia (2021-2025).
Currently, Bolivia, as with many other countries in Latin America, is experiencing a huge sanitary-economic crisis due to the COVID-19. This new challenge also needs to be considered in the new strategy.