China and Sustainable Development in Latin America: The Social and Environmental Dimension
By Rebecca Ray, Kevin P. Gallagher, Andrés López and Cynthia Sanborn
Over the last decade, Latin American countries have enacted some of the most ambitious environmental and social protections in the world. But these hard-won protections faced their first serious test in the recent China-led commodities boom, as growth exploded in intrinsically-risky sectors like mining and oil.
China and Sustainable Development in Latin America documents the social and environmental impact of the China-led commodity boom in the region. It finds that overall, Latin American governments and Chinese investors largely fell short of mitigating the social and environmental impact of commodity-led growth.
The recent commodity boom exacerbated pressure on the region’s waterways and forests and accentuated threats to human health, biodiversity, global climate change and local livelihoods. China and Sustainable Development in Latin America also highlights important areas of innovation, like Chile’s solar energy sector, in which governments, communities, and investors have worked together to harness the commodity boom for the benefit of the people and the planet.
If the region hopes to regain its momentum toward sustainable development, Latin American governments will have to put in place – and enforce – the necessary policies to ensure that economic activity in natural resource sectors is managed in an environmentally responsible and socially inclusive manner. China and Sustainable Development in Latin America aims to highlight the efforts that have borne fruit as well as the areas that still need attention. Without proper policies in place to make sustainable development part and parcel of economic decision-making, Latin America will continue to be plagued by the commodity boom and bust cycles that accentuate social and environmental conflicts and are ultimately detrimental to long-term prosperity.