3 years ago

A Comparative Study of the Introduction of Restrictions to Large‐Scale Mining in Four Latin American Countries

Paúl Cisneros

Institutions are important to enhance the contribution of mining industries not only to economic growth, but also to environmental justice and equality. In this paper, we study the processes by which four Latin American countries modified their existing institutions to manage the effects or large‐scale mining in their territories. We focus on the political struggles to introduce legislation to restrict the geographical expansion of large‐scale mining in their territories. To this end, we integrate a leading theory of the policy process with theoretical insights from studies of environmental governance and political settlements. Our findings show that processes of policy change followed distinct paths with common elements. The elements that link the initial conditions with change are policy learning, challenges to dominant policy images, conflict expansion, and the involvement of veto players. We also observe that the outputs of the reforms diverge significantly. Three contextual variables contributed to the variability of the outputs of these reforms; the degree of cohesion of elites, the degree of development of environmental institutions, and the relative dependency on mineral revenues. During the processes of policy making, these institutions offered different opportunities and constraints for policy challengers to advance their agenda and for dominant actors to maintain the status quo. The new policy designs offer opportunities for countries to deal with the effects of mining on sensitive ecosystems but political instability threatens the long‐term institutionalization of these reforms.

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