Bolivia’s Aymara Nation: Indigenous Climate Issues


The inter-generational dialogue “ARUSKIPAÑAWA WAKISI JIWAS MAYJT’ATA QAMAWISA Road to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP 28)” has been carried out to address environmental concerns, climate change, and biodiversity loss, taking into account that the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has recognized the fundamental role of Indigenous Peoples. The dialogue aims to gather Indigenous Peoples’ recommendations for the negotiations at the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference.

The dialogue was organized by CIVICUS, the International Indigenous Peoples’ Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), Red de Jóvenes Indígenas de América Latina y el Caribe (RED-ALC), Centro de Estudios Multidisciplinarios Aymara (CEM-Aymara), Universidad Pública de El Alto (UPEA), Instituto de Investigaciones de Trabajo Social with participants from the Organizaciones de Pueblos Indígenas Regionales, Organizaciones de Pueblos Indígenas nivel Bolivia, Autoridades Indígenas tradicionales, Mujeres Indígenas y Jóvenes Indígenas and Estudiantes de la Universidad de Pública de El Alto (UPEA).

The Aymara Nation

The Aymara Nation faces several challenges such as poverty, discrimination, limited access to the justice system, violation of human rights, respect for free, prior and informed consent (FPIC), lack of protection of our traditional knowledge, lack of access to drinking water and lack of access to comprehensive health care for Indigenous Peoples with specialized care for Indigenous Youth and Children.

The damage to Mother Earth produces the disintegration of the community, due to migration, for example the Poopó Lake is drying up and families are no longer fishing and are forced to migrate to the city of Challapata, the Chapare and different parts of the country, disintegrating families and in other cases in the worst working conditions. It is necessary to re-educate, before there were ways to treat waste and it was used as fertilizer, now people have opted to use plastics, and the production no longer supplies for the family.

On this note, the dialogue aims to improve knowledge about the effects of climate change and the global response framework under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; understand the connections between climate change and indigenous rights, particularly the role of traditional authorities, women, and Indigenous Youth; and develop messages and recommendations for COP28.

The consultation was held on June 23, 2023, in the city of Altupata Marka, in the department of La Paz, Bolivia, with the participation of 48 people from the different provinces of the department of La Paz, both highlands and lowlands (Andean-Amazon). The participants are traditional and municipal authorities, former traditional authorities, men and women leaders of communities and indigenous peoples, young leaders in office and students of the Public University of El Alto.

It was a meeting with broad participation and from different experiences, such as indigenous authorities, students, male and female leaders, youth and grassroots people. It was a dialogue between elders and young people that managed to unite the workshop, because those present gave great importance to the transmission of their indigenous knowledge to the youth, and from the youth as they face climate change today.

The event has three presentations: climate change and the role of Indigenous Peoples presented by Lucila Choque; the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and working groups within the Conference of the Parties COP28, presented by Kantuta Conde; and the mandate of the Platform of Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples within the UNFCCC and the Work Plan (2022-2024), presented by Walter Gutiérrez. According to the program, work was carried out in three tables, under the World Café methodology.

Issues and challenges

Climate change affects traditional knowledge. The COVID 19 pandemic taking into account that there was no cure for this disease, indigenous peoples, especially indigenous women, have resorted to medicinal plants such as wira wira, chamomile, eucalyptus, sulta, and other medicinal plants that have saved lives.

Recover traditional systems based on reciprocity and complementarity. Traditions that are still practiced today in the communities and in the urban context, the ayni, minka, yanapa, reciprocity systems that are in force for coexistence, these systems are based on traditional knowledge and that allow to respond to the needs of the communities.

These systems are based on traditional knowledge and allow us to respond to the effects of climate change, such as the use of tarwi for crops that have pests.


  1. Raise awareness on environmental care, through socialization workshops and permanent dialogue between elders and youth in local language, for the transmission of indigenous knowledge, and return to our way of feeding. Take advantage of technological means for environmental education from childhood, youth and society in general.
  2. Create agro-forestry reforms strengthening the regulations in favor of the environment, and sanction illegal practices and activities that damage the environment such as burning and cutting down trees. Reforest trees and plants, according to the ecosystem of the region, for example in the highlands with the quiswara (traditional tree that is disappearing).
  3. Promote the public policies of the Ministry of Water and Environment and have an impact in rural areas, and provide solutions to the problems of pollution, for greater control of the companies that come to the communities. Government authorities should implement public policies of prevention and conservation of the environment, at all levels.
  4. Decrease the consumption of products that damage the environment, such as plastics, and return to the use of our own products that our elders use, for this the work is to raise awareness from the family, and government agencies for their dissemination and promotion of our fabrics and products, the consumption of our medicinal plants.
  5. Promote actions to work on waste and facilitate recycling, from the different instances, families, schools, colleges and universities and government institutions, to save Mother Earth, taking preventive measures.
  6. Recover our ancestral knowledge and values, to use this knowledge to confront climate change. This knowledge and indigenous knowledge has been preserved over time through oral tradition and has been transmitted from parents to children. Therefore, it is recommended that in schools and universities there should be a subject on climate change and traditional knowledge.
  7. The Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (LCIPP), within the framework of the Framework Convention on Climate Change, should create economic funds to support initiatives to combat climate change at the local and territorial level. In addition, we recommend that LCIPP invite Ministers of Environment to the annual LCIPP Working Group meetings to create a collaborative space between governments and Indigenous Peoples.
  8. The Conference of Parties should create a mechanism for studies that respond to the particular negative effects of climate change on Indigenous Peoples, such as on the appearance of pests in the seeds of Lake Chua Cocani, Huatajata.

Source: Scoop