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Putting environmental discourses into policies: The case study of Bolivia

concluded 02/2021


In 2006 Evo Morales won presidential election and became Bolivia´s first indigenous president. Morales´ political party consists of a peasant-indigenous coalition that was brought to power under the promise to re-establish Bolivia as the twenty first multicultural, pluralist socialist State.  As an attempt to create an alternative to neoliberalism it introduced alternative patterns of development like Vivir Bien (living good) based on the indigenous belief of harmony between humans and nature. Since then, in and outside Bolivia an intensive debate arouse about the practical implications of Morales’ presidential victory, the importance of the induced political processes. This is particularly true for the environmental sector typically marginalized within the prevailing approaches for rural development primarily grounded on economic growth. Within this context Morale´s administration has adopted highly controversial and challenging discourses related to nature and environmental policies. The focus of this study is to understand how different factors influence the process of environmental relevant policy-making, and identifying what hinders or facilitates the emergence of these policies. In general terms, the challenge of translating political discourses into tangible outcomes and policies is a common problem in the policy-making process. The case of Bolivia, due to its actuality and extremeness is ideal to study the processes and factors influencing the transformation of political statements into action on the ground. It can be expected that such an analysis provide important insights of how to design environmental policy that more effectively achieve their goals. The theoretical framework of the study is based on public policy and argumentative discourse analysis approach. Methodologically, the research will be grounded on the case studies, each of the representing settings in tropical rural contexts that have a high environmental relevance, in particular, agricultural frontiers, protected areas, and indigenous reserves. In each case study, an array of parameters will be described through the application of qualitative research to reconstruct the underlying policy processes and to find empirical evidence that support or deny the key factors influencing the design and implementation of environmental policy.

Supervision: Prof. Dr. Benno Pokorny, Dr. Lorenzo Pellegrini (Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam – Den Hague)
PhD student: Adriana Ballon
Start: since 01.10.2013
Funding: Hanns Seidel Foundation e.V.
Institute for Advanced Development Studies (Bolivia)




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