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Abstract

A new extractive boom looms over Bolivia, home to roughly a third of the world's lithium reserves. Since previous mining booms have not put the country on a sustainable development path, this paper briefly outlines the initial results of a research on policy options to break away with the past. The paper first assesses the relationship between resource dependence and sustainable development by looking at the evolution of genuine savings in Bolivia and neighbouring, resource-rich countries. It then discusses Bolivia's potential position on the world's lithium market and examines the institutional variables that shape perceptions, expectations and policy options at national and local levels. Notwithstanding major technological challenges, the paper concludes that further research should shed light on how inclusive processes can be nurtured in rentier states, and how far specific institutional reforms can contribute to turning the looming lithium boom into sustainable outcomes in the Bolivian case.

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