First Advisor

Gary Scott

Term of Graduation

Winter 2000

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Political Science


Political Science




Environmental policy -- Latin America -- International cooperation, Environmental policy -- Latin America -- International cooperation, Environmental law, International



Physical Description

1 online resource (128 pages)


This study analyzes the obstacles to environmental policymaking in Latin America such as the poverty crisis, the North/South conflict and political corruption. These obstacles result in weak government institutions and create an opportunity for other actors to wield greater influence in the policymaking process.

This paper evaluates the effectiveness of environmental agreements such as debt-for-nature swaps. Debt-for-nature swaps emerged as a solution to the conundrum of the debt crisis and environmental degradation. The cases of Bolivia, Costa Rica and Ecuador illustrate the tensions between development and environmental degradation. The most important lesson learned from these swaps is that the support of local inhabitants is critical to the success of conservation programs. In general, debt-for-nature swaps fail to have a lasting impact on either the debt or conservation crises that they seek to alleviate.

The three main perspectives of regime theory: power-based, interest-based and knowledge-based regimes provide the analytic framework for the evaluation of environmental regimes in Latin America. This study suggests that a contextual regime may be the most effective theoretical framework for environmental policymaking. The informal and nonbinding nature of contextual regimes could galvanize Latin American countries to initiate a dialogue on environmental issues and eventually result in more substantive, legal remedies over time.

A key component of a contextual regime for Latin America would include a more formal and substantive role for environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs). A key obstacle to their participation is the traditional, state-centric model of International Relations and the central tenet of sovereignty. This paper suggests a polycentric approach, one that includes both governmental and nongovernmental actors could provide a better framework for environmental policymaking in Latin America. This study looks at how ENGOs can educate local inhabitants about sustainable farming practices, monitor environmental agreements and assist with technology transfers. Specifically, I will look at the impact of ENGOs on the 1983 and 1994 International Tropical Timber Agreements and the Global Environment Facility negotiations. The proliferation of NGOs in environmental policymaking has been likened to a "quiet revolution" and defining the scope and extent of their role is an issue that requires further analysis.


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