Increasing concerns about environmental protection (in particular the lack of legislation regarding hydrocarbons) constituted the basis for the creation in 1997 of the Environmental Unit, which is part of the Vice-Ministry of Energy and Hydrocarbons.

Since its inception, the unit has liaised with key players in the hydrocarbons industry and conducted studies in order to incorporate international environmental standards for the industry in Bolivia.

The main objectives of the unit are:

  • to formulate environmental policies and plans;
  • to propose technical environmental standards and evaluate relevant documentation, based on the current norms;
  • to implement environmental control and follow-ups; and
  • to promote and provide incentives for the application of environmental conservation measures.

In addition, the unit works to improve relations between the hydrocarbons industry and the indigenous communities that its work affects. It is hoped that companies will benefit from the communities' swift response to any problem that arises, and the communities will benefit from the building of schools and clinics by the companies.

The unit's latest project is the "LIL Project - Reinforcing the Environmental Administration Capacity of the Hydrocarbons Sector", a study which addresses concerns about the lack of legislation governing the sector. The study aims to:

  • reinforce the environmental controls and follow-up procedures;
  • develop a training programme in order to educate the individuals and entities involved of their rights and obligations; and
  • develop studies that will improve the socio-environmental administration of the hydrocarbons industry.

It is estimated that the study will be finalized in December 2003.

For further information on this topic please contact Ricardo Indacochea or Iver Von Borries at Indacochea & Asociados, Abogados by telephone (+591 3 535 356) or by fax (+591 3 581 200) or by email ([email protected] or [email protected]).