Updated to: 16 October 2013Download as PDF
Contact & history
Viceministry of Environment, Biodiversity, Climate Change and Forest Development and Management
Camacho Avenue # 1471 (between Loayza and Bueno streets)
Phone: (591-2) 2146382 - 2146383 - 2146385 - 2146374
Fax: 2146371 - 2146369
History of ESIA
In Bolivia the obligation to conduct an environmental impact assessment (EIA) exists since 1992, with the promulgation of the Law of the Environment (Law No. 1333). In 1995, the regulations of environmental control and prevention and environmental management were approved. The EIA legislation was strengthened with the adoption of sector regulations. EIA is implemented by the Ministry of Environment and Water, environmental units of the other Ministries at the national level and by the local governments at the departmental level.
The Law of Environment no. 1333 of 1992
National detailed regulation for ESIA
The General Regulation of Environmental Management (DS 24176, approved in 1995); the regulation establishes the following rules and regulations in environmental policy: administrative and juridical aspect; competences of the environmental authority and the involvement of sector authorities; public participation; management of economic and financial resources; and the promotion of scientific and technological research.
The Regulation on Prevention and Environmental Control (DS 24176, approved in 1995) sets the EIA and environmental quality control regulatory framework. The regulation establishes the methodology for EIA: the environmental license, competences of the environmental authorities, and screening. Environmental quality control concerns the control of all investments in the process of implementation, operation, maintenance or abandonment phase.
- Guide for obtaining and updating of the environmental license for mining-metallurgical activities (2001).
- Environmental guide for mining residue reservoirs (2001).
- Environmental guide for the management of water in mining-metallurgical activities (2001).
- Guide for how to fill in the environmental information form.
- Guide for the minimum content of an impact assessment study report.
- Guide for an environmental study for projects in operation.
Sector specific procedures or regulations on EIA
The Ministry of Mining and Metallurgy and the Ministry of Hydrocarbons and Energy are important ministries economically and socially, and their sectors have significant environmental impacts. Their framework laws regulate the sector activities and have specific environmental regulations for the sector. Two important sector framework laws are: the Mining Code, Law No.1777 (1997) and the Hydrocarbon Law (2005). The Hydrocarbon Law envisages the environmental legislation for the sector aiming to minimize and prevent environmental damage and regulates activities in sensitive areas (articles 132-137).
Sectors have their own regulations that are based on the environmental protection act. Sectoral EIA procedures are established based on the Regulation for prevention and environmental control.
The sectoral regulations are as follows:
- The Mining Code (art.90) establishes that the activities of prospecting and exploration in unprotected areas do not require environmental impact assessment studies, thus only applicable standards of environmental protection are taken into account, in accordance with special regulations and control. Other mining activities whose environmental impacts are not significant do not require EIA, although they must comply with special environmental regulations. These two cases are defined in detail in the environmental regulation for mining activities.
- Environmental regulation of mining activities, RAAM (Supreme Decree No. 24782, 1997).
- Environmental regulation of the hydrocarbons sector, RASH (DS 24335, 1996).
- Environmental regulation for the industrial sector (RASIM, DS 26736, 2002).
The sector regulations provide permissible limits for the sector. Sectors use guidelines and promote the ISO 14000 standards.
Ley hidrocarburos 2005:
Scope of ESIA application
EIA is applicable to all works, activities and projects, and public, private or mixed investment. EIA will be applied previous to the implementation phase.
Exemptions from ESIA application
The competent sector agencies in coordination with the Ministry of Environment and Water, can decide according to law, exemption for projects, works and activities. In this case the initiative shall not be subject to the procedure for the environmental screening and is granted the dispensation certification.
The Environmental Unit of the General Directorate for the Environment and Climate Change (which belongs to the Viceministry of Environment, Biodiversity, Climate Change and Forest Development and Management) and Local Governments are authorized to approve dispensation for the EIA process, according to a list established by the Congress, Council of Ministers and Ministry of Environment and Water.
Reglamento de Prevension y Control Ambiental Reglamento Ambiental para Actividades Mineros (articulos 73, 92-94)
Central ESIA authority
The competent national authority is the Viceministry of Environment, Biodiversity, Climate Change and Forest Development Management (established by Decree No. 29894 in 2009 - article 98). The Vice-Ministry depends on the Ministry of Environment and Water.
The approval of the environmental license is authorized by the competent environmental authorities: the Viceministry of Environment, Biodiversity, Climate Change and Forest Development Management and the local authority of one of the nine departments.
Other key (governmental) parties involved in ESIA, and their roles
The Ministry of Mines and Metallurgy is an important environmental authority which establishes regulations, norms and guidelines for the EIA procedures. The National Geological and Technical Mining Service (SERGEOMIN) provides comprehensive services in EIA. This state institute administers the environmental information system (SIA).
Other important authorities are the Ministry of Hydrocarbons and Energy and the State Hydrocarbons Agency - Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivianos (YPFB). This sector has its own regulations and guidelines.
The Ministry of Public Works, Services and Housing is involved as advisor for EIA procedures for projects, works and activities in this sector.
http://www.ypfb.gov.bo http://www.sergeomin.gob.bo http://www.mineria.gob.bo
(De)centralisation of ESIA mandates
The Administrative Decentralization Law (no.1654 approved in 1995) mandates political and fiscal decentralization towards the local governments at the level of the nine “departamentos” and municipalities.
The Environmental management regulation and the Regulation of prevention and environmental control establish the mandate and the functions exercised by the environmental authorities at different levels. In summary, the Local Governments are entitled to decide about environmental screening, EIA and dispensation certificates in their territorial jurisdiction. The municipal authorities have a role as advisor and supervisor during the process of elaboration of the technical report and supporting documents.
The Law of Popular Participation (1994) gives a relative autonomy of public management towards urban and rural municipalities. The Law created “local community organizations” (OTBs). The OTBs can be organizations of neighborhoods, small farmers federations, rural communities or villages.
The OTBs are entitled to propose, control and supervise the execution of projects and supervise the performance of public servants. The OTBs participate in the revision of the environmental form, elaboration of the EIA and monitoring and control.
The proponent pays a minimal fee ($5) for the application of the environmental and project information sheet. Payment at the unique counter of the General Directorate of Environment (belongs to the Viceministry of Environment, Biodiversity, Climate Change and Forest Development and Management).
The proponent will pay the team that elaborates the EIA.
Overview ESIA procedure
The EIA procedure in Bolivia starts with Screening. This step involves the allocation of a projects to one of different categories that each require different levels of environmental assessment. Thereafter, the impact assessment, the review process and the decision-making process regarding the issuing of an environmental license follow. Finally compliance-monitoring is required. Scoping is not a required step of the process.
Important documents that are part of the EIA process are the following: Environmental and Project Information Sheet (Screening), Technical Report (Screening), EIA report, Prevention and Mitigation Plan (PPM), Application and Assessment Plan (PASA), Monitoring plan.
Screening is a required step of the EIA process. At national level, the Viceministry of Environment, Biodiversity, Climate Change and Forest Development and Management and at local level, the local government is the authority responsible for the screening decision.
The Screening process consists of several steps.
First, the proponent requests the “environmental and project information sheet” at the unique counter of the competent environmental authority.
Second, the accredited consultant (contracted by the proponent) prepares the sheet.
Third, the municipal governments or environmental unit of the sectoral ministry review the sheet and prepare a technical report. The technical report is sent to the environmental unit of the Local Government or the Environmental Unit of the Viceministry of Environment, Biodiversity, Climate Change and Forest Development Management (whichever corresponds).
Fourth, the environmental authority starts the process of screening based on the environmental and project sheet and the technical report.
Fifth, the competent authority approves, rejects or requests further information of environmental and project information sheet and studies of EIA's in its territory.
The Screening process involves the categorization of projects to determine the level of assessment that is required. Four categories are distinguished:
- Analytical integral environmental impact assessment study
- Specific analytical environmental impact assessment study
- Projects and activities which require only a monitoring plan and an environmental plan with prevention and mitigation measures.
- No EIA required.
The criteria for establishing the EIA category are as follows:
- magnitude of the activity according to the affected surface and volume of production;
- significant impact of the environment;
- location near or in protected areas;
- use of natural resources;
- quality and quantity of effluents, generated emissions and waste
- risk for health of the population;
- permanent or temporary relocation, or other alterations of human settlements;
- changes in social, cultural and economic conditions;
- impact on historical and/or cultural values.
The Mining Code (art.90) establishes that the activities of prospecting and exploration in unprotected areas do not require an environmental impact assessment study, only standards of environmental protection apply, in accordance with special regulations and control. Other mining activities whose environmental impacts are not significant do not require EIA, although they must comply with special environmental regulations. These two cases are defined in detail in the environmental regulation for mining activities.
Additional requirements for the EIA are demanded for projects which have influence on and/or are located in areas of natural, cultural and spiritual value (sacred sites). Competencies for environmental approval for investment in protected areas and areas of national heritage are assigned to the national environmental authority (the Ministry of Environment and Water). The National Service of Protected Areas (SERNAP) participates in the process of elaboration, review and monitoring of the EIA of projects in protected areas.
Contents of the starting document
The classification process is based on the environmental and project information sheet.
The contents of the environmental and project information sheet:
- Overview of the project and location of the project;
- Description of project, duration, alternatives, total investment, description of activities;
- Natural resources of the area that will be affected, raw materials, inputs, and production that are demanded by the project;
- Generation of waste and noise, and storage and management of inputs,
- Possible risks and contingency plan;
- Identification of the "key" impacts, and elaboration of a impact matrix
- Formulation of measures of prevention and mitigation to reduce or avoid negative impacts
- Legal documents
The competent environmental authority reviews the environmental and project information report within 10 working days.
The EIAs and environmental management plans should define the area of influence. The EIAs and management plans must describe the phases of implementation, operation and closure.
There are specific regulations for each sector.
The proponent contracts a technical team. The proponent has the role to inform the technical team. The environmental consultancy team elaborates the assessment which includes investigating the environmental, social and economic impacts. Impacts will be assessed in quantitative and qualitative terms. Positive and negative, direct and indirect, temporary and permanent, short term and long term, reversible and irreversible and cumulative and synergistic impacts are classified.
Groups of civil society in the area of influence have the role to inform the technical team.
Contents of the EIA report
The regulation “Prevention and control of environmental quality” describes the minimum content of the EIA-report.
- description of the project and its objectives;
- environmental baseline;
- identification of impacts;
- prediction of impacts;
- analysis of risk and contingency plan;
- environmental, social and economic impact assessment
- proposal of mitigation of negative impacts
- discussion of alternatives;
- program with prevention and mitigation measures, including their costs;
- analysis of cost-benefit;
- restauration and abandonment plan;
- monitoring and evaluation plan;
- identification of applicable legislation;
- complete EIA document including clear and easy understandable executive summary.
Accreditation of consultants
The National Environmental Authority administrates a register of accredited environmental consultants. The National Environmental Authority grants authorization to any professional, business consultant, group of professionals, environmental units and non-governmental, national or foreign organizations, complying with the conditions laid down under the national environmental authority. Register lists of environmental consultants of the national environmental authority are available for public consultation in departmental governments, sectoral bodies and/or municipal governments.
A request for registration is directed to the General Directorate of Environment and Climate Change.
reglamento de prevención y control ambiental art. 36 y 37 http://www.tramites.gov.bo/tramite.php?cod=210
The proponent submits the EIA to the competent environmental authority. The municipality or the environmental unit of the Sectoral Ministry reviews the EIA and submits a technical report to the competent environmental authority (environmental unit of the local government if it is a project in departmental competition or to Environmental Unit of the Ministry of Environment and Water). The competent environmental authority reviews the EIA and the technical report. The competent environmental authority approves, rejects or requires clarification or complements. If approved, the environmental license will be issued. The environmental license granted by the Gobernación is sent to the national environmental authority (General Environmental Directorate of Viceministry of Environment, Biodiversity, Climate Change and Forest Development and Management) for confirmation.
Municipality and/or the environmental units of the Ministeries (sector) are involved in the review and send their findings and observations to the competent environmental authorities.
The deadline for the review by the competent environmental authority is 20-30 working days depending on the category.
If the competent authority fails to comply with the timeline, positive administrative silence applies.
Integration of ESIA into decision-making
All projects and activities prior to the investment should compulsorily request for environmental screening. This initial environmental assessment determines the category of the investment and corresponding EIA requirement and level. According to categorization the project must meet particular requirements for the environmental license. The environmental license is required for the approval of the project and activity. Dispensation may be obtained from competent environmental authority.
At national level the technical unit of the General Environmental Directorate of the Viceministry of Environment, Biodiversity, Climate Change and Forest Development and Management (of the Ministry of Environment and Water) reviews the EIA. The Viceministry of Environment, Biodiversity, Climate Change and Forest Development and Management decides on approval (signing the environmental license), or will sent a letter requesting for correction and/or completion, or rejects the license.
At local level, local government are the authorities for EIA approval within their territorial scope. With the signing by the Governor (president of local government) the environmental licenses are granted.
The EIA approved report is linked to an Environmental Management Plan.
Ley Medio Ambiente
Environmental approval decisions for initiatives in category 4 and for initiatives with a certification of dispensation does not require EIA. For projects and activities which correspond to categories 1 and 2 an EIA should be elaborated. EIA approval is required for approval of these investments. For projects in category 3 the proponent has to elaborate a prevention and mitigation measures plan and a monitoring plan.
A summary of environmental licenses will be published in the public newsletter of the Ministry of Environment and Water. A database of environmental licenses exists and can be consulted on a public website.
The deadline for the EIA approval by the competent environmental authority is 20-30 working days depending on the category.
Contact person of Ministry of Environment and Water
It is required to formulate a monitoring plan (Plan de Aplicación de Seguimiento Ambiental, PASA). The PASA contains inspection and monitoring during the phases of implementation, operation and closure.
Environmental units of the regional and national ministries, local governments at the level of the nine departamentos and municipality should do the inspection and surveillance of the project during implementation, operation and closure.
The OTBs (local community organizations) are involved in monitoring according to the environmental management plan.
Environmental licenses could be suspended if the project does not meet the requirements laid down in the Environment Law or its regulations. This includes violations in categorization, the elaboration of the EIA, the elaboration of the mitigation measures plan and environmental monitoring plan. In the implementation phase the project can be stopped through the suspension of the environmental license, or in the case when the operator fails to comply with the approved mitigation measures and environmental monitoring plan.
Ley Medio Ambiente y su Reglamento Prevención y Control Ambiental
Public participation requirements for ESIA process stages
The public consultation is compulsory in the preparation of EIA. No particular EIA process stages during which it is required are specified though.
During the review of the environmental information sheet, screening, review of the EIA and the granting of the environmental license, any natural person or collective person (through the local community organization - OTB), can formulate in writing their comments, criticism and proposals for the project, with technical and legal justification. The competent environmental authority must take into account these comments in issuing its report.
During the phase of the EIA review, one may submit a petition for a public hearing initiative, in accordance with the general environment law and with the regulation of environmental management.
In the review of the EIA reports, the competent environmental authority may consult individuals, institutions and communities in the area of influence of the EIA, which may submit their judgment in writing.
The results of public participation have to be elaborated the EIA final report. There is no information though on how these are considered in decision making.
There are no costs for the public to partake in EIA.
Timeline for public comments
A timeline of 20 days after the publication in the media is set for the industrial sector in the regulation of environmental procedure for the industrial and manufacturing sector.
Access to information
The environmental and project information sheet and the EIA have to be available to the public in the units of the Viceministry of Environment, Biodiversity, Climate Change and Forest Development and Management and/or environmental units of the Local government. In the process of screening, scoping and elaboration of EIA the competent environmental authorities can classify information as confidential.
A summary of the EIA, with mandatory information that is set by the environmental regulation is elaborated. The summary must be accessible to the public. The environmental license approval decisions are also available to the public.
The environmental regulation for the industrial manufacturing sector establishes that the proponent must inform through the media that the draft EIA and management plan are available for public consultation. In addition, a letter must be sent the OTBs in the area of influence.
The environmental and project information sheets, EIA-reports and environmental licenses have to be publicly available at the environmental units of the Local Government or the environmental unit of the National General Environmental Directorate (Viceministry of Environment, Biodiversity, Climate Change and Forest Development and Management).
Possibilities for appeal
The proponent may file an appeal concerning a decision of categorization ("screening") or the rejection of EIA with the corresponding administrative organisation.
Any natural or collective, public or private person deemed to be affected by the categorization, approving or the rejection of the EIA by the competent environmental authority may appeal with the superior organization. Also at any time during the project, work or activity, any citizen may file a complaint of environmental damage through their respective community organization (OTB) with subsequent written technical justification.
Annual no. of ESIAs
800 EIAs are assessed and approved annually.
Central ESIA database
Information is stored at the National System of Environmental Information.
- Environmental Information System (website in Spanish)
- National Service of Geology and Mine Technology (website in Spanish)
- Network of sustainable development and environment (Red Sustainable Development and Enviroment, website in Spanish)