Economic Development and Environmental Protection in Latin America

By Joseph S. Tulchin | Go to book overview

Introduction

Joseph S. Tulchin & Andrew I. Rudman

The environment has become a global issue affecting each and every one of us.Nearly every day, information about some short- or long-term threat to the environment is presented in the mass media. Concern for the environment, and how best to ward off the impending disasters of which the scientific community warns us, has become an integral part of public debate among academic specialists and the policymaking community. The growing public concern with the greenhouse effect and the deforestation of the Amazon, two of the most publicized environmental issues, has forced academics and policymakers to focus greater attention and resources on the environment.Advanced scientific research, policy studies, and numerous conferences and seminars designed to promote environmental awareness have been conducted around the world. These issues are indeed global, crossing national and international boundaries with no respect for strategic alliances or political ideology. The environment affects us all, and thus a cross-disciplinary and cross-regional approach is essential if we are to achieve the degree of understanding necessary to formulate effective environmental public policies.

In Latin America, fear is widespread that efforts to protect the environment somehow will impede or frustrate plans for economic development.For many years, environmental concerns were the monopoly of small, single-issue, often economically privileged groups in the industrialized nations—the "Greens" in Europe, for example, and wildlife groups in the United States.Third World nations considered such concerns a luxury.Indeed, in international forums, representatives of developing nations in Latin America often referred to concern for the environment as yet another means by which the industrialized North would keep the underdeveloped South in thrall.

Recently, this situation has begun to change. Latin Americans have begun to address environmental issues previously ignored or considered

____________________
Joseph S. Tulchin is director of the Latin American Program of the Woodrow Wilson Center; Andrew I. Rudman, previously program associate of the Woodrow Wilson Center Latin American Program, is now with the US Foreign Service posted to Guayaquil, Equador.

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