GNF - Fighting Climate Change in Bolivia

Combating Climate Change in Bolivia



Climate change is making itself felt in Bolivia; it’s been possible to watch Lake Titicaca’s water level recede for years. Water is a naturally scarce resource in the (semi)-arid heights of the Altiplano, where the lake is found. Water supplied from the lake is a requirement for survival for the continually growing population. Around 2 million people live around Lake Titicaca’s catchment area. Increasingly devastating consequences for not just the lakes and its resources such as water and fish stocks, but also for the shore and adjoining land are the result of growing population pressure. The continually decreasing availability of water is already making it far more difficult to procure the water needed for consumption, irrigation, industry and electricity production.


Species diversity in and around the lake is threatened not only by retreating water levels and climate change, but also by increasing water pollution due to untreated household and industrial sewage. The Andes Carp (Orestias) and the endemic Titicaca Water Frog (Telmatobius coleus) populations are declining sharply. The flightless Titicaca Grebe (Rollandia microptera) is hardly able to find nesting spots because the shore has been so altered and overused by humans.


The decline of once abundant fish stocks has driven many traditional fishermen to farming and ranching. Today over 50 types of potatoes are grown in the area of origin of potato farming around Lake Titicaca, along with original grains such as quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) and Andean Lupin (Lupinus mutabilis). These grains are of great importance for food security.


La Paz, with its 895,000 inhabitants, is Bolivia’s seat of government. The city lies at an elevation of 3,600 meters and is only about 150 km from Lake Titicaca. The indigenous peoples have a deep cultural and traditional relationship with Lake Titicaca but only a very small portion of the population in La Paz or at Lake Titicaca is knowledgeable about climate change. So far the municipalities directly at Lake Titicaca have had very limited financial and human resources with which to carry out environmental education measures. Only a small team from the municipal administration has started carrying out environmental education programs at the lake.

Project Goals

The project’s overall goal is to promote public awareness of climate change and its immediate consequences for people’s livelihoods among the communities at Lake Titicaca. The campaign aims to reach the population in multiple ways. First, through environmental education campaigns in various communities around the lake. Second, through large-scale events such as a film week (organized with support from the Bolivian Film and Cinema Group, Cinematica Boliviana) and a thematic photography contest about climate change. Finally, through the publication of environmental education materials. A further important goal is the creation of a climate change concept that includes a concrete action plan in order to counter climate change and introduce adaptation policies. This concept will be created in conjunction with La Paz’s municipal administration.

Project Measures

Environmental Education Measures and Education Events

Several environmental education events in various communities at Lake Titicaca will be carried out with the help of specially developed environmental education materials and assorted learning tools. La Paz’s municipal administration will also assist in identifying the communities for which the education measures are most important. The National Museum of Natural History’s implementation support ensures that a multitude of people beyond the community participants will be included in the measures.


Interactive Environmental Education

CampaignIn addition to the above-mentioned environmental education measures, an interactive audio-visual environmental education campaign will be planned and carried out. The campaigns will also encompass publicly effective mass events in order to reach a larger portion of the target group. The Cinematica Boliviana will provide support with this. There will be cultural events like a short-film film week and a photography contest with an exhibit on climate change.


Climate Protection Concept

A viable climate protection strategy with a concrete action program is being developed together with the La Paz municipality. This process will be accompanied by workshops (TRÓPICO, GNF, La Paz municipality). Best Practice examples and experiences from Europe will help in the development of successful and transferable approached for Bolivia. Local interest groups and stakeholders will also be included in strategy development. The above-mentioned environmental education measures are already a part of the climate protection strategy. 

Further information on Lake Titicaca can be found on our website.

 Agriculture at the flank of hill at Lake Titicaca
 Islands of the Urus on Lake Titicca
 Inhabitant of an island of the Urus
 La Paz in Bolivia
 Isla Amantani
 Vegetation of the shore line
 Ruin of the ancient world on the Isla de Sol

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Fighting Climate Change in Bolivia – Supporting Activities at Lake Titicaca and in La Paz


December 2011 – November 2013




Municipality of La Paz, Bolivian Cinemateca Group, National Museum of Natural History, City of Leeds (UK), at the project beginning also Trópico (Bolivia)


Foundation Ursula Merz