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"Living Well" principles written into Bolivian constitution, redefining relationship between humanity and nature

Bolivia has included the concept of "Living Well" in its constitution, which includes explicit alternatives to conventional models of development.

FORO writes,

"Bolivia [is] leading the charge toward a new understanding of development in South America. The concepts of "Living Well," in Bolivia were written into those countries recent constitutions, in 2009. The Suma Qamaña in Aymara (Bolivia) are presented as alternatives that redefine the relationship between humanity and nature, partly as a response to global financial, economic, social, food and environmental crises.

Living Well is an Andean approach that seeks to improve the quality of life that involves a close relationship with the land and community work. It is also associated with austerity and diversity, and with balance with nature and the spiritual world. This approach moves away from of growth and development because these terms are associated with consumerism and material accumulation. The emphasis on social relationships and on the balance between humans and nature is complemented by a set of principles that frame these relationships: do not steal (ama sua), do not be idle (ama qella), do not lie (ama llulla), community work (minga) and noble life, as well as reciprocity, solidarity, legal security, individual interest and collective welfare."

Implications

These proposals are signs of long-term paradigm changes in development stratgies, but they do face challenges in measurement and comparability, aligning with conventional institutions, and political instability that could threaten their realization. Regardless, we can expect more countries to explore these alternative approaches, because the underlying challenges they are seeking to address are enduring.

FORO writes,

"One of the central challenges to this approach is how to measure the performance of a country in terms of its development objectives, taking into account the access to and availability of information. However, if indicators are tailored to the context, situation and goals of a particular country, it is likely that comparability with other countries will be rather limited and difficult.

…[a] history of political instability does not rule out a radical change of direction in the coming years. Nonetheless, it is likely that Paraguay will soon develop and adopt some variant of this approach (Tekoha, as good living is called in Guarani), and perhaps, although less likely, Venezuela may be temped to do so as well.

Whatever their current limitations, Living Well approaches are attempts at promoting cultural change and initiatives to define alternative ways of improving the quality of life. As the imperative of abiding by the ecological and natural constraints that make it impossible sustain current growth patterns, consumption and pollution becomes more clearly visible and acknowledged, we can expect greater interest in pursuing these alternative approaches in the coming decade or two."

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Sources:

FORO Nacional/Internacional, April 2011, page 2-3: http://newsletters.clearsignals.org/FORO_Apr2011_Letter.pdf#page=2