Private Capital Flows and the Environment: Lessons from Latin America

By Bradford S. Gentry | Go to book overview

8. Lessons -- The Environmental Content of Private Capital Flows

The cases in Part II cover a wide range of foreign direct investments, differing by sector (agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, infrastructure), country ( Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Costa Rica) and environmental impact (increased pesticide loads to reduced waste water discharges). They demonstrate both the negative and the positive links between expanded private capital flows and environmental performance. They illustrate the changed roles of public and private actors in providing incentives for improved performance. They also lay the basis for increasing the environmental benefits associated with private flows.

This chapter explores the lessons from these different cases. First, it summarizes the environmental content of the cases -- both negative and positive. Second, it draws out the reasons why some of the investments led to improved environmental performance. Third, it describes the roles of different public and private actors in influencing the environmental content of the investments. The policy implications of these lessons and the opportunities they create for improving environmental performance are considered in Chapters 9 and 10.


Environmental Content -- Both Negative and Positive

Clearly, additional environmental damage is being caused by the foreign direct investment in many of the cases studied. Increased land use, particularly in sensitive areas, is an issue in the agricultural sector in both Brazil and Costa Rica. Increased pollutant loads accompany expanded agricultural production, as well as new manufacturing facilities in the free zones in Mexico and new hotels around national parks in Costa Rica. Secondary activities around development zones -- industrial, agricultural or transportation -- also have significant environmental impacts. These can

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