Recent economic success has moved Bolivia from a low-income economy to a lower-middle-income economy. Its main economic activities include agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, and manufacturing goods such as textiles, clothing, refined metals, and refined petroleum. Bolivia is very wealthy in minerals, especially tin and has the second largest natural gas reserves in South America. The Bolivian population, estimated at roughly over 11 million, is multi-ethnic, including Amerindians, Mestizos, Europeans, Asians and Africans and has tripled in the last 50 years.
Despite recent economic progress, the challenges faced by the country are still considerable, mainly linked to the high inequality in income distribution, the overall weak capacities in the country for efficient public policy implementation and the pressures on natural resources put by the developmental model.
The strategic objectives of the partnership between the EU and its Member States and Bolivia are set in the Joint European Strategy (JES), extended from 2021 to 2025. They are based on the National Development Strategy of the Bolivian Government, the Patriotic Agenda 2025 and are further developed by the 2016-2020 Economic and Social Development Plan as part of the comprehensive development approach towards the principle of “Vivir Bien” (good living), focusing on strategic areas and prioritising goals, results, and actions.
Two priority areas are foreseen under the 2021-2027 MIP:
Environment, Climate Change and Inclusive Economic Development
In line with the Bolivian Constitution and the Law of Mother Earth, the 2025 Patriotic Agenda aims at the universalisation of basic services – including water and sanitation – and environmental sovereignty. Bolivia being a loud defender of Mother Earth rights has nevertheless suffered from a slow implementation of its commitments and significant tensions between environmental protection on the one hand and economic growth and production models on the other, mainly due to anachronistic rural development techniques.
Governance and Human Rights
The Bolivian Constitution, together with the Patriotic Agenda, constitutes a solid framework for the promotion of Governance and Human Rights in the country. Over the last decade, Bolivia has significantly advanced in the recognition of innovative categories of rights, notably in the areas of indigenous people, environmental, social and women’s rights. However, effective implementation is still hindered, partly due to the lack of funding and institutional capacity, as well as from political and institutional tensions eroding the rule of law.
The Multiannual Indicative Programme (MIP) for Bolivia for 2021-2024 amounts to €104 million.
Priority area 1:’Environment, Climate Change and Inclusive Economic Development’ proposes sustainable environment management and disaster risk reduction. Efforts aim at combating illegal logging and reducing environmental negative externalities of economic activities, promoting sustainable forest management, halting deforestation and promoting deforestation-free supply chains, ensuring sustainable and responsible mining, managing and securing protected areas and highly biodiverse ecosystems that are home to endangered wildlife, and increased environmental awareness through education. The work on environmental governance will focus on improving the rule of law, fostering environmental democracy, access rights and participation following the right-based approach, with special attention to indigenous groups.
Priority area 2:’Governance and Human Rights’ proposes the reinforcement of the democratic framework in the post-conflict context, with a view to consolidating state institutions, ensuring the separation of powers and supporting the implementation of human rights. It continues the last MIP’s EU cooperation efforts to support a comprehensive justice reform, granting independence, efficiency and equal access. This will include a strong focus on reinforcing institutions, promoting the security of tenure for judges and prosecutors, decreasing heavy bureaucracy, strengthening digitalization, fighting against corruption and extending legal aid, particularly for victims of gender-based violence and vulnerable groups.
Support measures in favour of Bolivian civil society have a long history, constituting an indisputable actor in the country's political and developmental debate, and playing a role in innovation and social transformation. Furthermore, Bolivian associations have traditionally been very active in delivering services to the population with a focus on groups in need such as indigenous peoples, women, youth, and rural and urban peripheral populations.