Environmental Economics

Three organizations that are redefining environmental education

Valerie GiesenClimate change, ozone layer, biodiversity, carbon footprint, glacial melt – these have become the buzz phrases of a generation. To some these problems seem far away, while others give up in light of their complexity and magnitude. But clearly we should not leave it to the ‘big boys’ of environmental politics to tackle the problems faced around the world. Active and informed engagement with environmental challenges will be necessary to find satisfactory solutions. Today, Development Roast brings you three initiatives from three countries offering environmental education and tools for engagement at the policy, academic, and grassroots levels.

Costa Rican Earth University is revolutionizing agricultural education

The Costa Rica-based Earth University offers students a holistic degree in Agricultural Sciences and Resource Management that teaches them about every stage of agricultural and forestry production: from crop management and harvesting to processing and waste management. Unlike many other agriculture degrees, Earth courses do not teach the components of the ecological system, such as biology, physics, and chemistry, separately. Instead, Earth’s holistic approach confronts its students with the complexity of ecological systems and the role people play in them from the beginning. Students also learn about the ins and outs of agricultural business by planning and running an agricultural enterprise with their classmates over the course of three years with a special emphasis on the ecological and social costs of agricultural business. On campus, the university practices what it preaches: In 2011, it opened its first ‘green’ dorm with energy-efficient lighting, solar water heaters, and a rainwater collection system for toilets and outdoor sinks. Read More »

Bolivia Climate Change Monthly: November 2013

INESADWelcome to the November 2013 edition of Bolivia Climate Change Monthly where you will find the latest research, policy, donor activity, and news related to climate change in Bolivia*.

Academic Research Bolivia Climate Change

Climate Change Induced Glacier Retreat and Risk Management: Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) in the Apolobamba Mountain Range, Bolivia, by Hoffmann, D., & Weggenmann, D., in Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management.

Abstract: Due to global warming, tropical glaciers in the Bolivian Andes have lost about half of their volume and surface area since 1975. Throughout the Apolobamba mountain range, the retreat of glaciers has resulted in the formation of small and medium-sized lakes on the glacier terminus. Many of the glacial lakes are contained only by loose moraine debris: thus they can pose a significant threat to human settlements and infrastructure downstream. Considering the fact that the Cordillera de Apolobamba holds the largest continuous glaciated area in Bolivia, which measured 220 km² in the 1980s, there is a legitimate concern regarding the dangers that might affect this mountain region. Yet there is no documentation available on glacial lakes in the Apolobamba mountain range; indeed there is little awareness of the related risks. Only recently has glacial retreat, and climate change impacts in general, been given some importance in the planning and management of the Apolobamba National Protected Area for Integrated Management, thereby opening a discussion on natural hazard threats and the development of adaptation strategies with the objective of minimising risks for human populations and local infrastructure. This paper presents documentation of glacier retreat and the forming of glacial lakes in the Cordillera of Apolobamba over the last 35 years. In addition, the risk potential of glacial lake outburst floods and the risk awareness of the local population will be analysed in relation to park management options, and ideas outlined for more detailed studies of glacial lake outburst floods in Bolivia.

Media Coverage Bolivia Climate Change Monthly

Bolivia, uno de los países con mayor deforestación (Bolivia, one of the countries with the highest rate of deforestation), La Razon, November 18.

Blogs Bolivia Climate Change Monthly

Adaptation, Adaptation, Adaptation; Migration, Climate Change and National Adaptation Plans in South America, by Elizabeth Warn, Migration – The big issue, November 13.

This article discusses the response of South American countries to climate change, and argues that migration should be thought of as an adaptation strategy. Migration is generally viewed as a failure to adapt, rather than being seen as a method of adaptation. However, the national strategies of some countries in the region do just this. One example is the Bolivian National Mechanism for Adaptation to Climate Change (MNACC) which mentions five specific adaptation measures, of which two refer to migration: one is to “plan the migration flows of rural populations to guarantee the generation of opportunities”, and the other is to “determine the causes of temporary and permanent migration to guarantee the sustainability and the process of new human settlements”.

Global deforestation: 10 hot spots on Google Earth – in pictures, by Adam Vaughan, The Guardian Environment Blog, November 15.

An analysis of 650,000 satellite images has revealed the extent of the loss and recovery of forestland over the world. Bolivia is one of the deforestation “hot spots”, with soya production and cattle ranching being two of the primary causes.

* This bulletin is intended for scientists, practitioners and others who are interested in climate change issues in Bolivia. Every care is taken to include all the relevant works published in the previous month, however, should you be aware of any research that has been accidentally overlooked, please email a link to ifenton@inesad.edu.bo

“Climate Finance for the Developing World: What is needed and how to make it inclusive?”


By: Lykke E. Andersen, 13 November 2013

Climate change negotiations have entered peak season again with the COP 19 just starting in Warsaw. What is it that they say: 19th time is a charm?

This year, like previous years, key questions related to climate finance have been discussed extensively in many different settings with many different experts and stakeholders all year. Last month’s PEGNet conference in Copenhagen was one such venue. As the session chair of the above titled roundtable, I fully realize the depressing repetitiveness of yet another climate finance discussion, but I still think the main points are important and original enough to share.

Read More »

Bolivia Climate Change Monthly: October 2013

INESADWelcome to the October 2013 edition of Bolivia Climate Change Monthly where you will find the latest research, policy, donor activity, and news related to climate change in Bolivia*.

Academic Research Bolivia Climate Change

Palaeoecology of brachiopod communities during the late Paleozoic ice age in Bolivia by Badyrka, K., Clapham, M. E., & López, S., published in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology.

Abstract: Studies of modern ecological communities demonstrate that climate change may trigger changes in diversity and taxonomic composition; however, these studies are fundamentally limited to short timescales and therefore cannot demonstrate the full impact of major climate change. Understanding the ecological response of marine invertebrate communities to the Late Paleozoic Ice Age (LPIA), the last complete transition from icehouse to greenhouse, can establish a more complete picture of the climate–faunal relationship. We analyzed brachiopod community structure in Moscovian–Sakmarian (mid-Pennsylvanian to Early Permian) samples spanning the greatest extent of the LPIA, collected from four localities of the Copacabana Formation in Bolivia: Ancoraimes, Yaurichambi, Cuyavi, and Yampupata. Cluster analysis reveals three main groups that appear to coincide with pre-, syn-, and post-glacial times. Genus richness was significantly greater in samples during the Asselian glacial episode; however, the difference may be due to a combination of smaller body size and time averaged mixing of genera from different depths during more rapid glacioeustatic sea level change. Genera present in Bolivia consistently had warm-water affinities, even during the main glaciation, but warm-water taxa increased in abundance over time and the samples became increasingly dominated by characteristically North American genera. Overall mean body size and the size of particular genera were smaller in the Asselian cluster. These size changes likely reflect variations in substrate because marine invertebrates should be larger at cooler temperatures due to oxygen limitation at higher temperatures. The monotonic increase in abundance of warm-water genera and increasingly North American biogeographic affinity imply that community change was most likely the result of the northward drift of Bolivia rather than a response to late Paleozoic glacial–nonglacial cycles. This lack of climate related faunal change was probably a result of Bolivia’s mid-latitude location during the late Paleozoic because both the rate of temperature change and its magnitude were likely smaller at lower latitudes, reducing the impact of climate change on marine communities.

Climate trends and projections for the Andean Altiplano and strategies for adaptation by Valdivia, C., Thibeault, J., Gilles, J. L., García, M., & Seth, A., published in Advances in Geosciences.

Abstract: Climate variability and change impact production in rainfed agricultural systems of the Bolivian highlands. Maximum temperature trends are increasing for the Altiplano. Minimum temperature increases are significant in the northern region, and decreases are significant in the southern region. Producers’ perceptions of climate hazards are high in the central region, while concerns with changing climate and unemployment are high in the north. Similar high-risk perceptions involve pests and diseases in both regions. Altiplano climate projections for end-of-century highlights include increases in temperature, extreme event frequency, change in the timing of rainfall, and reduction of soil humidity. Successful adaptation to these changes will require the development of links between the knowledge systems of producers and scientists. Two-way participatory approaches to develop capacity and information that involve decision makers and scientists are appropriate approaches in this context of increased risk, uncertainty and vulnerability.

Characterization of recent glacier decline in the Cordillera Real by LANDSAT, ALOS, and ASTER data by Liu, T., Kinouchi, T., &  Ledezma, F., published in Remote Sensing of Environment.

Abstract: The changing sizes of glaciers in the Cordillera Real (16.2°S, 68.2°W), Bolivian Andes, between 1987 and 2010 were determined by a band ratio method using cloud-free LANDSAT TM and ALOS AVNIR-2 data. From 1987 to 2010, glacier-covered areas in the Cordillera Real were found to have diminished by more than 30%. The rate of glacierized area shrinkage within this Andean region, and particularly of its glaciers, has significantly increased in the past 5 years. To characterize the change in glacierized area, a changing factork was introduced to capture the effects of topographic factors, including elevation, slope angle, and aspect as identified using ASTER 30-m Global DEM data on the Huayna Potosi, Mururata, Charquini, Illimani, and Serkhe Khollu glaciers. This study also further analyzed the Huayna Potosi glacier and discussed the inhomogeneity of changes in its area with elevation, slope, aspect, and the distribution of solar radiation.

Bolivia Climate Change Poverty and Adaptation, published by Oxfam International in Bolivia.

This report is based on the findings of a group of Oxfam researchers in Bolivia who investigated how poor families are experiencing and adapting to climate change, as well as interviewing key government and international officials, social movements, and NGOs. The main findings of the report include the fact that poor families are ill-equipped to deal with the future consequences of climate change, that women are often the group who suffer the most negative impacts, and that Bolivia can expect reduced food security and water availability, more frequent and intense natural disasters, an increase in mosquito-borne diseases, and more forest fires.

Blogs Bolivia Climate Change Monthly

Rural Bolivian Seed DiversitySeed Freedom.

Maintaining a diversity of seeds and crops is a key tactic in managing the risks of climate change. Following a Democracy Center research trip to Norte Potosí, Bolivia, the short documentary Seeds of Resilience tells the first in a series of stories about Bolivian climate resilience strategies.

Seminario ¨Universidades hacen frente al cambio climático¨ en La PazCambio Climático Bolivia, October 14.

An overview of  the seminar ¨Universities confront climate change¨ that took place in La Paz, Bolivia, on September 12, 2013. Universities play a key role in fighting climate change as they contribute vital scientific knowledge, motivating this seminar. The talks covered a wide range of themes, including the impact of climate change on biodiversity, the social and institutional dimensions of climate change research, and greenhouse gas emissions and energy plans in Bolivia. Full details of the seminar can be found here.

¨Edición especial: Experta del mes¨ Municipios y adaptación al cambio climático, Cambio Climático Bolivia, October 15.

An article about the importance of municipal action, in additional to national and international action, when confronting climate change and its consequences. The article includes a series of concrete proposals for how municipal authorities can incorporate the necessary policies and argues that climate change mitigation in order to avoid an increase in poverty, food insecurity, and forced migration, amongst other disastrous effects.

* This bulletin is intended for scientists, practitioners and others who are interested in climate change issues in Bolivia. Every care is taken to include all the relevant works published in the previous month, however, should you be aware of any research that has been accidentally overlooked, please email a link to ifenton@inesad.edu.bo

Five Ways in which South American Communities Feel the Impact of Climate Change

Valerie GiesenReports by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the World Bank show that communities across South America are already feeling the impact of climate change today—and that these are likely to intensify in the future. According to the IPCC, the economies of most Latin American countries depend on agriculture, which means that climatic change and extreme weather events that affect farming also pose a tangible threat to economic prosperity and developmental goals in the region. A 2012 World Bank Report even predicts that South America will be one of the regions hit hardest if temperatures rose by more than the internationally recognised 2°C target. This post will highlight five of the central ways in which South Americans are experiencing the effects of climate change:

1. Temperature: In South America, climate change has led to a variety of temperature changes. While the widely-cited 2007 IPCC report observed an overall 1°C increase in temperature across South America over the past decade, there has been significant regional variation, leading to diverse effects. For instance, Bolivia’s highlands have actually cooled by 1°C over the past five decades, while there is some evidence for rising temperatures in the lowlands. In a 2009 World Bank Report, Drs. Lykke Andersen and Dorte Verner show that the contradictory trends of average temperatures have led to uneven social and economic effects of climate change in Bolivia. They estimate that the cooling experienced in the country’s highlands has reduced income in these areas by about 2–3 percent. In the country’s wealthier lowlands, no such negative trends were observed. This means that in Bolivia changes in temperature affect the population of the comparatively poor highlands disproportionately, compared to the wealthier lowland of the country. Read More »

Three South American Crops that are Endangered by Climate Change

Valerie GiesenIf climate change seemed far away, here are three reasons to reconsider. From basic daily staples to our favourite morning drink, climate change is already affecting crops in South America. The Inter-American Development Bank estimates that Latin America and the Caribbean contribute 11 percent of the value of world food production, making shifts in the region’s agricultural production relevant to global, as well as regional, food security.

1. Potato: According to the International Potato Centre (CIP), the potato is the third most widely consumed food crop in the world, with annual production approaching 300 million tons. According to a 2012 report by the 8th World Potato Congress, South American potato production reached slightly over 14 million tons in 2010. However, production in South America has come under climate-change induced stress. In 2012, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) reported that potato production in the Andes is increasingly threatened by late blight disease, which caused the severe Irish potato famine in the 1850s. The Integrated Pest Management Program at Cornell University outlines the course of the disease: Late blight is particularly severe under warm, humid conditions. it is triggered by the ‘oomycete pathogen’, which is a microorganism that produces millions of spores from infected plants. These survive from one season to the next in infected potatoes and travel through the air causing new infections if the weather is sufficiently wet. Infected potatoes develop dark lesions on the surface and – in many cases – rot from the inside. Read More »

Could Unconventional Career Paths Stimulate Bolivia’s Development?

Lorena Talavera“There is no love sincerer than the love of food,” wrote George Bernard Shaw in his 1903 book ‘Man and Superman’. With the establishment of a new gourmet restaurant in La Paz, more of this love is coming to Bolivia. Could this move carve the path for creativity and its industry in the country?

Let me introduce you to Noma. The qualities that have placed this Danish restaurant at the top of the list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants by the British magazine ‘Restaurant’, are that it is “innovative, inventive, and – of course – [that it has a] ground-breaking approach to cooking.”  However, that is not the end to this story. Following Noma’s success, co-founder Claus Meyer opened another gourmet restaurant, GUSTU, but this time in Bolivia. Now, you may be thinking, ‘why am I reading reviews about restaurants in Development Roast?’ Turns out, Claus Meyer is no ordinary gastronomic entrepreneur. It is precisely his “ground-breaking approach” to cuisine at GUSTU that might be opening doors in Bolivia towards a society more supportive of unconventional—yet still promising—career paths. Read More »

Bolivia Climate Change Monthly: September 2013

INESADWelcome to the September 2013 edition of Bolivia Climate Change Monthly where you will find the latest research, policy, donor activity, and news related to climate change in Bolivia*.

Academic Research Bolivia Climate Change

Climate change impact on countrywide water balance in Bolivia by Escurra, J. J., Vazquez. V., Cestti, R., De Nys, E. & Srinivasan, R. published in Regional Environmental Change

Abstract: There is increasing concern about the ongoing reduction in water supplies in the tropical Andes due to climate change effects such as glacier/snow melting resulting from rising air temperatures. In addition, extreme events and population growth are already directly affecting life and water renewability in the country. A countrywide integrated national plan for improving basin-scale water management in Bolivia is needed to assure water availability for agriculture, industry, mining, and human consumption. This study aims to provide a modeling tool to assess Bolivia’s past, current, and future water availability and identify basins at risk of water deficits. The Soil Water Assessment Tool was used to simulate the monthly water balance from 1997 to 2008, as well as the water balance projected to 2050 for the entire country. It considers possible changes in air temperatures and precipitation proposed by 17 Global Circulation Models as well as carbon dioxide projections derived from the Special Report Emission Scenario. Overall, model results were close to satisfactory compared to observations, with some exceptions due to lack of information for expanding the timeline and improving calibration. Based on the calculation of three hydrologic indicators, the study identifies basins that would be the most susceptible to water deficits for a baseline from 1997 to 2008, and in the event of the projected climate change, to 2050.

Assessing global biome exposure to climate change through the Holocene–Anthropocene transition by Benito-Garzón, M., Leadley, P. W. & Fernández-Manjarrés, J. F. published in Global Ecology and Biogeography.

Abstract: Aim: To analyse global patterns of climate during the mid-Holocene and conduct comparisons with pre-industrial and projected future climates. In particular, to assess the exposure of terrestrial biomes and ecoregions to climate-related risks during the Holocene–Anthropocene transition starting at the pre-industrial period.

Location: Terrestrial ecosystems of the Earth.

Methods: We calculated long-term climate differences (anomalies) between the mid-Holocene (6 ka cal bp, mH), pre-industrial conditions and projections for 2100 (middle-strength A1B scenario) using six global circulation models available for all periods. Climate differences were synthesized with multivariate statistics and average principal component loadings of temperature and precipitation differences (an estimate of climate-related risks) were calculated on 14 biomes and 766 ecoregions.

Results: Our results suggest that most of the Earth’s biomes will probably undergo changes beyond the mH recorded levels of community turnover and range shifts because the magnitude of climate anomalies expected in the future are greater than observed during the mH. A few biomes, like the remnants of North American and Euro-Asian prairies, may experience only slightly greater degrees of climate change in the future as compared with the mH. In addition to recent studies that have identified equatorial regions as the most sensitive to future climate change, we find that boreal forest, tundra and vegetation of the Equatorial Andes could be at greatest risk, since these regions will be exposed to future climates that are well outside natural climate variation during the Holocene.

Conclusions: The Holocene–Anthropocene climate transition, even for a middle-strength future climate change scenario, appears to be of greater magnitude and different from that between the mH and the pre-industrial period. As a consequence, community- and biome-level changes due to of expected climate change may be different in the future from those observed during the mH.

Media Coverage Bolivia Climate Change Monthly

Andean water ‘sponges’ being squeezed by changing climate, BBC News, September 4.

Blogs Bolivia Climate Change Monthly

$450/ha tax on deforestation could help curb forest loss in Bolivia, suggests new simulationmongabay.com, September 1.

Press release about INESAD’s SimPachamama game.

Cambio climático y el boom de la quinua en Bolivia, Cambio Climático Bolivia, September 9.

An article which explores the benefits and disadvantages of the rising international popularity of quinoa. In the context of climate change, quinoa may play a key role in future food security, due to its high resistance to extreme climatic conditions. However, intensive farming of quinoa in parts of Bolivia is having a detrimental effect on the environment and actually making the surrounding regions more susceptible to the effects of climate change.

Gold mining leaves deforestation and mercuryBlue Channel 24, September 24.

Félix Carrillo, Coordinator of the Environment, Mining and Industry Foundation, explained to the press how the worst environmental impact of mining is not the use of mercury, as previously thought, but deforestation due to gold mining in the Amazon. Miners now have access to heavy machinery to aid them with their searches which destroys large areas of jungle.

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* This bulletin is intended for scientists, practitioners and others who are interested in climate change issues in Bolivia. Every care is taken to include all the relevant works published in the previous month, however, should you be aware of any research that has been accidentally overlooked, please email a link to ifenton@inesad.edu.bo

News: REDD+ Transaction Costs and Games for a New Climate

Climate Change Workshops For Policy MakersIn continuation with the SimPachamama launch month at INESAD, this week has seen a number of articles published around the topics of gaming, deforestation and climate change:

What would it cost to implement deforestation reduction policies in Bolivia?

By Ioulia Fenton

In conjunction with its partners, the Institute for Advanced Development Studies (INESAD) has designed statistical tools, using extensive real life data, to simulate what kinds of policies are likely to make a measurable impact on reducing deforestation while maximizing human wellbeing in Bolivia. As the “How to Live Well in Bolivia” infographic released by INESAD earlier this month illustrates, two policies working in tandem are predicted to have the best results. An internal US$450 tax on every hectare of cleared forest, structured in a way as to mainly affect large-scale commercial agriculture, could raise one billion dollars every four years and kick start deforestation reduction efforts. While laudable on its own, the policy would not be enough. A matching system of payments from rich countries to Bolivia for reducing deforestation that would raise an additional one billion dollars every two years is predicted to act as a catalyst. If the money is then spent on paying people to conserve their forests, on creating green jobs (such as within the eco-tourism sector), and financing anti-poverty initiatives, every year, together, the dual policy effort is forecast to engage 72 percent of the rural population, increase the income of the poor who participate by 29 percent, and achieve a 29 percent reduction in deforestation. (Play the SimPachamama simulation game to see if you can keep forests standing while making the community happy and wealthy). Read More »

Carbon Markets: How not to save the planet


Upsetting the Offset: The Political Economy of Carbon Markets

Mayfly Books.

By Ioulia Fenton

Let’s say you live in a fairly rich country and you are actually quite well off. You use lots of paper in your job, drive a car, heat and air-condition your house, and regularly fly for work, vacation, and to see your family in another country. You know that this causes tons of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to be released into the atmosphere, which is driving climate change, and that if everyone in the world had your kind of a lifestyle then we’d need five planets, not one, to survive. So you decide that you want to do something about it. Even though you have started to recycle, have put energy saving light bulbs in your house, bought a Prius, and always carry your water bottle and coffee thermos flask, somehow you feel that this is not enough: the Carbon Footprint Calculator still tells you that your kind of life needs more than four planets. Read More »


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