The importance of private capital flows to the development of Latin America is clear. Despite the reversals caused by the monetary devaluation and speculative attack, private investment continues to dominate the 'new and additional' resources coming into the region. 1 A series of questions then arise. To what extent can private capital flows substitute for public commitments toward development? What is the environmental 'content' of such flows? Can governments and others channel these new resources to sustainable development?
The remainder of this book offers some answers to these questions. Most of the chapters start with an editor's summary of the lessons learned from the work in individual countries. That introduction is followed by sections written by different members of the project team. The primary authors of each section are identified in the text. As described in Chapter 1, no effort has been made to standardize the individual sections regarding structure or literary style. One of the most important goals of the project was to generate as much new thinking and work as possible. This was done by leaving members of the project team free to follow what they considered to be the most important issues in their country.
This chapter considers the foreign investment experience of Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, and Costa Rica. Part II of the book describes the environmental aspects of different investments in the four countries. Understanding these differences in country experience and environmental effects is critical to increasing the environmental benefits of global private capital flows. 2
While all four countries have seen large increases in foreign private investment over the past several years, there are wide differences in the