Natural Resource Governance in Latin America and the Caribbean: Social and Environmental Policies for Inclusive Growth

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Economic growth has slowed dramatically in Latin America since mid-2011. This stands in marked contrast to the previous decade, when countries in the region saw the largest sustained growth rates in their history. The main drivers of this boom and bust cycle are commodity price volatility and fluctuations in international demand for Latin America’s natural resource products. The growth fluctuations of recent years reflect Latin America’s strong dependence on the price of commodities, mainly extractive industry products, such as metals and crude oil. Once again, Latin America’s economic prospects hinge largely on its extractive industry abundance and variations in external factors, particularly the price of commodities, demand from China, and shrinking investment flows. Within the current macroeconomic context of low commodity prices, Latin American countries face the challenge—and opportunity—to adopt a new natural resource governance model that maximizes development benefits while respecting transparency and social and environmental sustainability. A new governance paradigm for Latin America’s extractive sector should be based on ample stakeholder participation—including local and federal governments, companies, local communities, and society as a whole—and deep institutional reform, both at the central and subnational government levels.

With this challenge in mind, the Wilson Center and the World Bank brought together several stakeholders from the region to discuss tools available for central and subnational governments to capitalize on their natural resource endowments while ensuring social equity and environmental protection. The debate took the form of a high-level dialogue on “Natural Resource Governance in Latin America and the Caribbean: Social and Environmental Policies for Inclusive Growth,” which took place on March 3, 2016, at the Wilson Center, in Washington, DC. 


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