June 2014

World Environment Day

In celebration of World Environment Day on 5th June, Anne-Lise Boissiere takes a look at Bolivia’s relationship with the environment, and what the future holds for Bolivian energy.

By: Anne-Lise Boissiere
Projects Abroad Volunteer
Paris, France

Old trash can of Cochabamba City
Photo: Ximena Noya
  • What > The world environment day
  • Where > In Cochabamba – Bolivia, but in all around the world
  • When > June 5th – but also every day
  • Why > To help to offset the emission of CO2 and other gases
  • How > Planting a tree

Nowadays the environment is an issue that concerns everyone all around the world. Everyday people are talking about the preservation of the planet, sustainable development, or renewable energy. This is a really important issue, which is why one full day is dedicated to the environment.

In 1973, the United Nations Environment program (UNEP) created the World Environment Day (WED) to dedicate one full day of the year to our planet Earth. Thenceforth, each year on June 5th we celebrate it as Environment Day. During its early years it was not an international event, but it has grown abroad and nowadays there are more than 100 countries all around the world that celebrate the WED.

This day is dedicated to the protection and the preservation of the environment. The main goal is to educate the population to the importance of this, and to make them aware of their responsibilities. It is also the opportunity for everyone to do something good for the planet, individually or collectively. This day can be celebrated in many ways; for example, by setting up a sporting event such as a tournament or a marathon. People can also organize a concert or dance performances. These events can be sponsored by companies or organizations. The WED is important in terms of education. At schools teachers organize activities about the environment with children, such as to go out to plant a tree.

This year the theme of the WED is small islands and developing states (SIDS). This means that it is aiming to help islands which are particularly victims of climate change. They are threatened by the sea level rise and the natural disaster. They also have to face the problem of waste management and the temperature warming. Their natural resources are in danger!

Slogan: Raise your voice not the sea level.

This means that we have to do something to act: it sounds like singing a new song for our planet. It is a simple message saying that it could be easy for everyone to act.

Bolivia, also called the Plurinational State of Bolivia because of its diverse indigenous groups and rich biodiversity, considers the WED as a very important day. Indeed, the economic development of the country depends a lot on the environment. Bolivia has many natural resources thanks to the different regions: humid rainforest in Amazonia, the important salt reserves in Uyuni, or the mining in the Andes as examples. Its resources are among the greatest in the world; it has the second largest reserve of natural gas in Latin America. Unfortunately, these resources are not exploited enough, or they are poorly exploited at the very least.

According to the United Nations’ program of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD), each year there are about 330,000 hectares of forest that are destroyed. In addition to the rest of the world, the climate has changed in the last few years especially because of pollution and deforestation. As a result, the poverty in the country has worsened. The air quality, the temperature change, and precipitation all affect the agriculture.

However, Bolivia is privileged for its sources of renewable energy like biomass, sun energy, or hydro energy. According to the researcher Miguel Fernandez for CEDLA (Centro de Estudios y Documentación Latinoamericanos) 97% of the territory could be exploited for energy from the sun. Since 2010, president Evo Morales adopted a new strategy and a new policy regarding environmental and sustainable development. He decided to invest about 185,000,000 dollars on research and development, especially on energy from sun and wind turbines. The two main goals of this investment are to principally use energy from renewable resources and to allow rural regions to have access to electricity until 2025.

What about the region of Cochabamba?

In March 2014, this policy was illustrated by the creation of the first park of wind turbine energy in Pocona, in the central region of Cochabamba. This project is a solution to resolve the problem of the energy crisis. It has cost a lot, the magazine La Razon estimates about 11,000,000 dollars, but it was a necessary investment. President Evo Morales said it was a historical day because on this day they delivered Bolivian people a new wind power system as a clean and renewable energy. He thinks it is the most ecological in the world. They expect good results and hope to produce enough energy for the population of Pocona, Totora, and Carrasco, which amounts to 23,000 people, according to minister Sosa. At the end of 2015, the government wants to build 20 other wind turbine to produce more electricity.

In the future, the Bolivian government would like to install others wind turbines elsewhere in Bolivia. It hopes to achieve the goal of becoming an exporter of electricity starting in 2020. They want to sell energy from wind turbines and other sources to their neighbors Argentina and Brazil.

Ladies wearing traditional clothes during dancing La Saya
Photo: Ximena Noya

5 ideas to help the planet

  1. Use public transport or ride a bike instead of your car
  2. Plant fruits and vegetables in your garden, or trees if you can
  3. Reduce your waste and recycle glasses
  4. Use less water: take a short shower instead of a bath
  5. Buy from local farmers to reduce greenhouse gases created by trucks or airplane


Tarata was one of the most important towns of the department of Cochabamba in the nineteenth century. It became the capital of the department in 1866 by the Bolivian president, General Mariano Melgarejo, a native from Tarata who was hated by everyone except the people of Tarata and his mistress, Juana Sánchez (nicknamed “la Juanacha”), a popular woman among the people of La Paz.
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