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 »

News: SimPachamama Launch, New Infographic, Media Buzz

SimPachamamaCoverPageSmallSeptember 2013 is official launch month of SimPachamama, the simulation tool that models the behavior of an Amazonian community. In it, the player becomes the mayor of such a town and has to balance policy priorities in order to maximize community wellbeing, while reducing deforestation. The game, and two other didactic scientific tools developed by the team of researchers, called OSIRIS and CISS, predict that a modest deforestation tax of around US$450/ha and a matching system of  payments for deforestation reduction from rich countries to poor ones, could raise US$1 billion every two years and help reduce deforestation by 29% annually, while increasing the income of the participating poor by the same amount. Read the official Press Release HERE.

How to Live Well in Bolivia InfographicTo help make the policy recommendations easier to digest, INESAD has developed an infographic to accompany SimPachamama’s launch. You can download and share How to Live Well in Bolivia graphic HERE or click on the image to right to view.

Throughout September, the SimPachamama team that includes researchers from INESAD, Conservation International Bolivia,  the London School of Economic and Political Sciences (LSE), and others, is publishing numerous articles that explain different aspects of the game and the debates that surround deforestation, climate change, and communities. Here is a sample of what has been published so far:

Communities need more than money to stop clearing their forests, new research shows.

What is Agent Based Modeling?

SimPachamama and the Happy Planet Index

Finally, to mark the launch, INESAD and its partners have had a two-pronged strategy. A Press Conference was held in La Paz, Bolivia on August 19, which attracted 31 media representatives from 20 different organizations. The coverage that followed went far and wide including more than a dozen articles in all the main Bolivian newspapers, such as La Prensa, La Razón, and Noticias Fides. You can download the impact note HERE.

English language media was targeted on SimPachamama’s official launch date: September 01, also generating a buzz. Here are one or two article example:

Americas Quarterly: Can games influence development policy?

Mogabay News: $450/ha tax on deforestation could help curb forest loss in Bolivia, suggests new simulation Read More »

Can Games Influence Development Policy? SimPachamama in the news

SimPachamamaCoverPageSmallOn September 01, 2013, Americas Quarterly magazine published an article by INESAD’s Ioulia Fenton on whether or not games can influence development policy. Read the original article here.

Can Games Influence Development Policy?

By Ioulia Fenton

Often referred to as “games for good” or “games for change,” a new generation of socially- and environmentally-oriented online simulation games aims to go beyond entertainment by raising awareness of global issues and securing funds for projects—making a real-word difference.

Over 10 million people worldwide have played World Food Programme’s (WFP) “Food Force,” for example, spending money that goes to fund WFP-sponsored school meals projects. However, few simulations have been useful at the policy-making level—until now. Today marks the release of “SimPachamama,” a new game from Bolivia that could influence international, national and local-level policy decisions that affect forest communities. Read More »

New simulation tool tackles deforestation and poverty in Bolivia

logo_SimPachamama_enPRESS RELEASE

For immediate release.

London/ La Paz, September 01, 2013 – A new simulation tool designed to help local Bolivian communities reduce deforestation and tackle poverty has been developed by academics and conservationists around the world.

A new simulation tool designed to help local Bolivian communities reduce deforestation and tackle poverty has been developed by academics and conservationists around the world.

The tool, called SimPachamama (‘Mother Earth simulation’ in local language), is based on extensive scientific research of a real-life Amazonian community and simulates the actions and behaviour of villagers near the agricultural frontier in Bolivia. To be played as a game to inform and educate with respect to land-use decision making, the player is the mayor of the village whose aim is to implement policies to improve the welfare of the locals and minimise adverse impacts on their forests.

It has been designed by an interdisciplinary team of academics from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), the Institute for Advanced Development Studies (INESAD), Conservation International Bolivia, and the University of Sussex.

The tool aims to help communities make informed decisions about their forest resources and stimulate debate on the kind of development they want for their community. It takes place over a period of 20 years during which the player can experiment with different policies and observe the consequences of his/her decisions.

SimPachamama has been developed as a didactic tool for use in workshops and training courses with communities, government employees and international representatives, and researchers hope it will help everyone come to the best compromise about the use of natural resources.

For example, results generated by the simulation suggests that a domestic tax of about US$450 per hectare of deforested land would be very helpful, especially if it could be structured in a way as to impact mainly large-scale agriculture.

“Bolivia’s agricultural sector is very profitable because land is 10 times cheaper here than in neighbouring countries and the fuel is heavily subsidised. US$450 per hectare would not significantly affect the earnings of the companies involved, but would make a big difference in terms of deforestation and welfare,” said Dr. Lykke Andersen of INESAD.

“In addition, SimPachamama illustrates very clearly the potential benefits, both for the environment and for human wellbeing, that could accrue from a system of international compensation through the Joint Mechanism for Mitigation and Adaptation of Bolivia, the Bolivian alternative to UN-REDD.

“Together, the domestic deforestation tax and the international compensation payments could both slow deforestation and generate one billion dollars every two years, money which could be spent on conservation payments, creation of green jobs, health, education and other anti-poverty programmes,” Dr. Andersen said.

SimPachamama is available as open source and can be downloaded for free from the project web-site: Apart from providing a quick guide to SimPachamama, and on-line courses in both Spanish and English at several levels, the site also acts as a forum for discussing the design of fair and effective mechanisms for reducing deforestation.

— Ends —

For more information, contact Dr. Charles Palmer from the Department of Geography and Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science, on 020 7107 5093,; Dr. Lykke Andersen from the Institute for Advanced Development Studies (INESAD) on or (+591) 7 650 1114 or Candy Gibson, LSE Press Office, on 020 7849 4624,

Notes to Editors

SimPachamama is funded by the Ecosystems Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) programme. ESPA aims to deliver high-quality and cutting-edge research that will produce improved understanding of how ecosystems function, the services they provide, the full value of these services, and their potential role in achieving sustainable poverty alleviation. ESPA research provides the evidence and tools to enable decision makers and end users to manage ecosystems sustainably and in a way that contributes to poverty alleviation. See for more details.

Project Partners:



Last Call for Papers for Development Economics Conference

BCDE 2013There is less than a week to go until the submission deadline for papers for the Fifth Bolivian Conference on Development Economics (BCDE) conference to be held on November 14 and 15, 2013 in Santa Cruz. A travel stipend of 700 USD will be offered to some of the successful applicants. Interested parties are encouraged to send their articles by no later than August 19, 2013.

For full details, please see the original call for papers here: Read More »

INESAD on the Radio: Real Food Empire

Real food empireToday, Real Food Empire—a radio podcast on environmentally and socially sustainable farming and eating—featured an interview with INESAD’s Ioulia Fenton.

The program discusses the institute’s work on climate change and human wellbeing, reviews Ioulia’s own research interests in food and agriculture, and highlights what Bolivia has to offer to those seeking inspiration for sustainable living. It touches on two specific articles: one on the merits of agroecological farming versus industrial agriculture and another on the need for smart agricultural planning in the Andes in response to and preparation for changes in climate.

With viewers all around the world, the program’s maker Stephanie Georgieff—who is involved with Slow Food U.S.A—shares her enthusiasm for INESAD and its work. In the program, she particularly praises INESAD’s Development Roast as a ‘living library’ of accessible articles related to sustainability and development. And expresses her hope that U.S.-based policy makers would make use of initiatives such as INESAD’s SimPachamama climate change policy game—which will be officially launched in September 2013—that teaches the player the effects of different policies on an Amazonian town.

You can listen to the entire podcast for free here: Read More »

INESAD News: The Potential of Bamboo for Carbon Sequestration in Bolivia

INESAD NewsA newly-released INESAD Working Paper reveals how bamboo forests in Bolivia have a significant role to play in the global fight against climate change. The multi-author paper, entitled “A Measurement of the Carbon Sequestration Potential of Guadua Angustifolia in the Carrasco National Park“, is based on a study of an unmanaged and previously unstudied bamboo forest. INESAD researchers found that this forest has the ability to store around 100 tons of carbon per hectare, in the stems, branches, and leaves of the bamboo, which is more than some species of tree such as Chinese Fir.

The carbon stored in a forest comes from the carbon dioxide (CO2) that it absorbs. CO2 is a harmful greenhouse gas produced by the burning of fossil fuels, which accumulates in the atmosphere and traps heat. This artificial change in the composition of the atmosphere is what causes climate change. Hence forests play a vital role in mitigating climate change, because they absorb CO2 which would otherwise end up in the atmosphere.  See Exactly How Do Trees Fight Climate Change? for more details about this process. Read More »

INESAD News: Welcome Angelina Gherardelli

Angelina Gherardelli

As part of its continuous growth, INESAD and Development Roast are bringing on board a host of new interns. Join us in welcoming one of our newest additions, Angelina Gherardelli:

Since her teenage years Angelina has actively participated in programs such as Un Techo para Chile, a youth-led non-profit organization that works with poor families of Chile’s slums to build communities and secure dignified places to live. Angelina was able to witness first-hand the humble conditions that thousands live in. This work, and her travel experience, led her to observe the persistent and growing socio-economic inequalities in her home country and abroad, motivating her to study development.

In December 2012, Angelina completed her Master’s in Development Studies, specializing in Environment and Sustainable Development, at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), in The Hague, The Netherlands, which allowed her to connect her love for nature with her concerns for social justice. Studying at the ISS gave her the opportunity to be immersed in a multicultural environment and to gain an analytical view of the most pressing environmental issues and their intimate connection to social grievances and struggles. Read More »

INESAD News: Welcome George Marshall

George MarshallAs part of its continuous growth, INESAD and Development Roast are bringing on board a host of new interns. Join us in welcoming one of our newest additions, George Marshall:

Bertand Russell once wrote: “The secret of happiness is this: let your interests be as wide as possible and let your reactions to the things and persons who interest you be as far as possible friendly rather than hostile.” George Marshall has aspired to realize this as an educator in East Asia for the past seven years, first teaching English in South Korean universities and more recently teaching advanced placement economics to gifted Chinese high school students. He completed his MSc in Finance (Economic Policy) at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London and his BA in Economics at McGill University in Canada.

He has recently been studying the connections between subjective well-being and objective welfare measures, improving efficiency in fair trade markets and the role of education—especially standardized education—in the development process. Outside of formal education, he enjoys traveling to new places by bicycle, playing classical guitar, and learning languages. Read More »

INESAD News: Welcome Adanna Chukwuma

As part of continuous growth, INESAD and Development Roast are bringing on board a host of new interns. Join us in welcoming our newest addition,  Adanna Chukwuma:

Adanna ChukwumaAdanna Chukwuma joins the INESAD team from a year long health policy fellowship with Global Health Corps.  During her fellowship, she was placed within the City of Newark where she assisted senior staff members in the Mayor’s Office and Department of Child and Family Well-Being in analyzing health-related policy options and developing strategies for reducing health disparities. She was also involved in advocacy for global health equity through various platforms such as the Social Innovation Summit 2012 where she was a featured speaker.

Prior to this, Adanna had practiced as a medical doctor in Nigeria for several years. She spent one of those years as a member of the National Youth Service Corps providing medical services and leading health promotion campaigns in rural North-eastern Nigeria. Her services were recognized with distinguished community service awards from the State Governor and the President of Nigeria. Her experience on the field, caring for women and children whose ill-health was shaped by factors such as poverty and gender dynamics prompted an interest in the wider determinants of health and well-being. Read More »


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