Latin American Environmental Policy in International Perspective

Latin American Environmental Policy in International Perspective

Latin American Environmental Policy in International Perspective

Latin American Environmental Policy in International Perspective


"In this volume, scholars and policymakers from throughout the hemisphere consider the domestic and international factors that shape the process of environmental policymaking in Latin America. Particular attention is given to domestic political institutions, growing domestic and transnational environmental activism, the role of the international development community, and the effects of sweeping neoliberal economic reforms on environmental policy. The volume also offers a set of comparative essays on environmental policy and politics in other regions of the world that demonstrates the common challenges confronting policymakers in many rapidly industrializing nations." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Gordon J. MacDonald and Marc A. Stern

Across Latin America, environmental policy has progressed in recent years from symbolism toward substance. Recognizing that environmental concerns are no longer a luxury only affluent nations can afford, leaders across the hemisphere have begun to realize that the long term costs of ignoring environmental protection are steep. Although the pace of reform varies from country to country, virtually every nation in Latin America is making progress toward addressing both the enormous environmental deficits created by past development and the need for some controls on present and future growth.

What explains this startling shift in policy priorities? A set of interrelated changes in both international and domestic politics may be responsible for this regionwide trend toward environmental policy reform. First, the international development community--composed of multilateral development banks, national development institutions, and United Nations-based development agencies--has undertaken a substantial effort to integrate environmental concerns into traditional models of economic development. This trend has converged with the remarkable economic reforms that have opened domestic economies to international market forces as never before. In both development and trade-related affairs, environmental concerns have emerged as a central issue on the North/South agenda.

Economic liberalization has coincided with political reform in most countries within Latin America, permitting environmental nongovernmental organizations (ENGOs) to proliferate. Their effectiveness has been bolstered by two developments. First, the mounting environmental costs of industrialization and population growth have mobilized communities throughout the hemisphere and have elevated the political costs to politicians of ignoring the demands of these . . .

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