Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Costa Rica all have extensive laws and government agencies aimed at environmental protection. While similar in many ways, each country has a different history leading to some differences in their policy regimes.
In Mexico, the General Ecological Law delegates national authority over the environment to the Secretaria de Medio Ambiente, Recursos Naturales y Pesca (SEMARNAP). Included are the National Institute for Ecology (INE), responsible for the development of environmental standards, and the Federal Prosecutors Office for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA), charged with policing and enforcing environmental laws. Separate regulatory bodies exist for water and in the states.
Brazil first adopted national environmental laws in 1972 and is widely considered to have one of the most advanced environmental legislative frameworks in the world. Yet the government, under the direction of the Ministry of the Environment (MMA), has frequently had difficulty implementing its policies.
Argentina added an 'environmental right' to their constitution in 1994, mandating that the federal government set national standards of protection, to be supplemented by the provinces. The exact system by which this sharing of federal/state responsibilities is to be carried out is still being developed.
Although Costa Rica's constitution decrees the right to a healthy environment, its primary, overarching environmental law, the 'Ley Organica del Ambiente' (LOA), was not adopted until 1995. The implementation of regulations has been slowly coming into place, leading to criticisms that the government has failed to define or implement appropriate standards, actions or controls for assuring its citizens a healthy environment.