9, May, 2012

Accessing Land for Extractive Industries: Socially and Environmentally Sustainable Approaches

In recent decades, Latin America has opted for new approaches to land access and use by the extractive industry sector. From these experiences, the Latin America region has interesting lessons to offer.

Latin American countries and corporations are learning that they need to better regulate how land is accessed and used for extractive activities. How have Latin American countries sought to achieve a balance between extractive industry activities and sustainable land use? This Guide considers this question by presenting and analysing different policy responses related to land use and extractive industries in Latin America today. It considers some of Latin America’s key policies, such as environmental regulations, gaining social licence for land access, and land use planning, among others.

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Key Lessons:

  • Countries can benefit by closely regulating land access and use for extractive projects to avoid the social conflicts and environmental destruction that unregulated competition over resources has produced in the Latin American context. Land planning is a powerful tool for regulating land access and use. The Latin American experience, however, shows how emphasis should be placed on participatory implementation and enforcement mechanisms, as these still need to be more fully developed.
  • Adopting environmental provisions by both public and private sectors has enhanced environmental regulations. Latin American states have demonstrated a political interest in improving their environmental standards, which has proven to be key to their adoption and effective use.
  • State creation of reserved areas and private acknowledgment of no-go areas for extraction can be regarded as a step forward in environmental regulation. In Latin America, this has taken place not only on paper, but in practice, and is helping to avoid environmental destruction in fragile areas.
  • (Español) La creación de áreas reservadas y zonas de exclusión es un avance en la reglamentación ambiental. En América Latina, esto se ha dado no solo en el papel sino también en la práctica y ha contribuido a evitar la destrucción de ecosistemas frágiles.
  • (Español) Una sociedad civil fortalecida puede contribuir al desarrollo de leyes ambientales y sociales. Las OSC en América Latina han tenido un gran avance en este sentido y su experiencia demuestra que la sociedad civil puede ser clave en impulsar mejores políticas.

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