Case Study


What problem were they solving? 

The Global Climate Risk Index, 2021, places Bolivia as the 10th most vulnerable country in the world, experiencing cyclical droughts, forest fires and floods. In the last four years, forest fires and agricultural burning have affected more than 15 million hectares, damaging biodiversity, ecosystems and livelihoods of rural communities. Yet adaptation planning in some of the most affected regions such as the Amazon, Chiquitania and Chaco is complex due to the priorities of local people who rely on the land for their homes and livelihoods. The national government has tried to address this challenge by introducing Lifesystems plans, a mechanism for Indigenous Peoples to plan for their territorial development and to provide inputs to the official climate adaptation planning process carried out by local governments: the Territorial Integral Development Plan (PTDI). Despite these efforts, some communities' views remain underrepresented in the development of Lifesystems plans, particularly those of Indigenous groups, further exacerbating the distance gap between traditional and official knowledge. The main reason for these climate action gaps is that the Plurinational Authority of Mother Earth, the government organization responsible for climate action and compliance with Bolivia’s Nationally Determined Commitments, lacks the resources needed to work closely with Indigenous communities to help them develop Lifesystems plans, and that there isn’t a process for integrating hyperlocal planning with the PTDIs and the national climate strategy.  

What did they do? 

The UNDP Accelerator Lab in Bolivia saw an opportunity to support Kaami, one of the Indigenous Peoples in the Chaco region, to contribute to their local Lifesystems plan. The Municipality of Camiri expressed its willingness to connect the Kaami Lifesystem plan with its municipal planning and, as a result, allocated a budget for it. The UNDP Bolivia Accelerator Lab prototyped a crowdsourcing process to understand the Indigenous communities’ climate adaptation needs. Through deliberative workshops with representatives of 16 Indigenous communities and municipal decision makers, they surfaced perspectives on the causes of climate change and the adaptation needs of the local forests and water bodies. These were used as the basis of a simple digital survey, where participants were asked to prioritize between different climate issues and adaptation strategies. The qualitative insights from deliberation and the results of the community survey were visualized in a co-designed 3D climate adaptation map, which will contribute to the territorial planning being developed by the Municipality of Camiri. UNDP has started socializing the Lifesystems plan with decision makers from the Plurinational Authority of Mother Earth to ensure its use as an input into the national planning cycle. 

What was the benefit of using collective intelligence for this issue?  

This collective intelligence prototype has demonstrated the viability of developing highly localized, inclusive climate adaptation land use plans as a means to empower Indigenous and overlooked groups to feed into national planning by the Plurinational Authority.  

Bringing together 16 of the 19 Indigenous communities from the Chaco region, with representatives of the municipal government and the Plurinational Authority of Mother Earth, helped to build mutual understanding and bridge the gap between traditional and official knowledge. For example, communities were unaware of the high rate of deforestation in the country, especially within their territories. It came as a surprise to them when they learned that on average, 33 soccer fields of forest had been deforested every hour from 1975 to 2019. The Indigenous representatives from the Kaami reported that taking part helped them develop a deeper understanding of interactions in the local ecosystem, which would improve their ability to actively preserve the environment in the future.  

What does this experience tell us about collective intelligence for climate action? 

This experience suggests that collective intelligence can mitigate gaps in climate adaptation planning, in particular by creating alternative forms of dialogue to create land use plans. By co-designing ways of presenting data, UNDP could ensure the results were more accessible to community members. For example, Likert scales with numbers rather than text were better for presenting data about the perceived state of natural resources in the digital survey. Using a 3D map of the trees and water sources in the local territory helped increase understanding of how different parts of the ecosystem interact to cause extreme weather.  

Collective intelligence alone, however, cannot bridge gaps between national indicators and terms and local communities. The Lab faced challenges aligning expectations between different groups and translating between Indigenous environmental knowledge and the technical terminology used by government officials. For example, some of the words used by Indigenous communities lost their full meaning when translated into Spanish and official indicators were not suitable for capturing activity taking place at a hyperlocal level. The technicians from the Plurinational Authority of Mother Earth helped them to effectively broker dialogue between the government officials and Indigenous representatives.  

CLIMATE ACTION GAPS ADDRESSEDDiversity Gap, Distance Gap, Doing Gap
 COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE  CASEInclusive Development And Technologies, New Forms Of Accountability And Governance
IPCC CATEGORYAdaptation, Forest-Based Adaptation
PEOPLEIndigenous Capitania Of Kaami, Municipality Of Camiri, Plurinational Authority Of Mother Earth
DATACitizen Generated Data On Community Priorities
TECHNOLOGYMobile Phones, Data Platform