A socioenvironmental success story? The World Bank thinks so.
Originally Published at Peace and Conflict Monitor on: 03/17/2003
The Bolivia-Brazil Gas Pipeline is the largest project for transporting natural gas that has been built in Latin America. It’s total length is 3,150 km from Rio Grande (Bolivia) to Curitiba, extending to Porto Alegre (Brazil). On the Brazilian side the Gas Pipeline goes through the States of Matto Grosso do Sul, Sao Paulo, Parana, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul. In doing so it cuts across large tracts of land occupied by indigenous peoples belonging to the Ayorea, Chiquitana and Guarani-Isoceña tribes
Indigenous Cooperation & Protection
Gas TransBoliviano S.A. (GTB) claims it has successfully designed and operated an Indigenous People Development Plan IPDP) which has the participation of the owner company, indigenous organizations, and financing agencies; this plan has become a real institutional model of participation and management in social and environmental matters in the hydrocarbon sector of Bolivia.
Moreover, the gas pipeline crosses the largest National Park in Latin America, called the “Kaa Iya del Gran Chaco”, for which reason GTB has donated one million dollars to establish a trust fund to be used in managing the park. Thus, GTB is sharing the responsibility for protecting and managing this important protected area. The Kaa Iya Park, with 3.5 million hectares, is the largest in Bolivia and the only one that is co-managed by an indigenous organization and the State. At present, in coordination with the Park’s Office, GTB is promoting the implementation of a Jaguar Conservation Plan inside the Protected Area.
The experience from the Indigenous People Development Plan IPDP) and GTB’s participation in managing the Kaa Iya Park has become a model for social and environmental management that has been internationally recognized by the World Bank and other financial entities. The trust that has been built between the State (SERNAP), the private sector (GTB), the indigenous communities and organizations (CABI), and the NGO’s (WCS and FII) has allowed them to guarantee the financial and institutional sustainability in managing the Kaa Iya Park. For these reasons GTB received from the International Association for Impact Assesment, (IAIA)’s 2001 Corporative Award, honoring its excellence in social and environmental management and the use of impact evaluations in designing and constructing the Bolivia – Brazil Gas Pipeline. in Cartagena de Indias in June, 2001.
The World Bank has selected the gas pipeline as a model of good social and environmental practices in the hydrocarbon sector; for this reason, a mission from the World Bank visited Santa Cruz last month, carrying out interviews and holding meetings with indigenous organizations, NGO’s, and municipalities to collect information with respect to this topic and publish the experience for the hydrocarbon sector.
Similarly, while the gas pipeline was being built GTB designed a specific plan for treating the subject of archaeology before carrying out the excavation work. The application of this plan gave way to the discovery of a series of findings of archaeological ceramic pieces going back to the Pre-Colombian Era. GTB prepared a specific program for the excavation and conservation of the valuable artifacts that were found along the pipeline’s path, with the support of national and international experts.
At present, GTB sponsors an important section in the Historical Museum of Santa Cruz, where one can observe part of the 16,000 pieces that were discovered by the company. A book with scientific information on the discoveries that were made during the construction has been published in Spanish and English as a testimony of the company’s interest in these very important topics, preparing a document for society on the civilizations that occupied these places in Bolivia. Data obtained with carbon 14 tests indicate that some of the archaeological pieces go back 4100 years.