Five environmental protection success factors learnt from Latin America

Latin America is known for its natural beauty and high level of ecological biodiversity, including many wonderful (and weird!) species.  An environment unmatched anywhere else in the world, Latin America is home to a number of the world’s ecologically most diverse countries, including Brazil, Ecuador, and Mexico.  And now, Latin America is showing the rest of the world how seriously they take environmental and resource protection.  It’s hard to believe, but this world region with its limited economic resources in comparison to other world regions, are leading in global environmental protection.  What is Latin America’s secret? Here are five environmental protection factors which helped Latin America reach their highly sought after environmental protection status:

#1: Well-defined conservation objectives

Latin America has well-defined conservation objectives, and this is a crucial step towards activating and achieving environmental protection.  With well-defined conservation objectives, developing action plans and keeping with the targets became easier and more effective as proven by Latin America’s recent conservation highlights.  One such example is the curbing of deforestation in Acre, Brazil.  With clear conservation objectives and action plans, deforestation was reduced by 70% over a mere five years.

#2: Side-stepping old technologies

Development in the Western world, particularly where energy generation and technologies are involved, highlighted major environmental impacts and concerns and unsustainable practices.  This could prove to be a successful learning curve for the developing world – showing where development and economic growth could be changed to avoid environmental impact.  And Latin America has ceased the opportunity.  Known environmental impacts associated with conventional technologies were side-stepped, allowing Latin America to bolt into the future, clean and sustainably.

#3: Securing conservation financing

Conservation efforts require a good financial support.  With reliance on public financial support declining, new avenues and collaborations are needed to secure conservation funding.  The World Bank reported on conservation funding escalations in Brazil.  The funding source?  Environmental trespassing compensation payments from industries.  With diligent management, conservation funding is allocated to the country’s environmental protection.

#4: Recognise conservation allies

Local communities.  Local communities often have generations of knowledge of their surrounding environment – they are part of the environment.  Latin America has shown how adopting coalitions with local communities, and giving them ownership of the environment and protection responsibilities, have resulted in environmental protection successes.

#5: Legal support

None of the above protection factors will be truly effective without legal support.  With broad spectrum legislation frameworks in place, the governments of Latin America have the necessary instruments to support and enforce environmental protection.  Legal support ties in closely with clear conservation objectives, and also include the empowering of all conservation role players to ensure that legislation is applied correctly and consistently.

Latin America has achieved a most-desirable level of environmental protection, and with it’s well-founded strategies expected to continue, a well-protected Latin American environment can be expected for the future.  Now, will other developing countries learn from Latin America’s success, and follow their example?

Photo credits: some rights reserved by bsmith4815, Roland & Sonja and joshbousel via flickr

Sources: The World Bank. Expanding Financing for Biodiversity Conservation: Experiences from Latin America and the Caribbean (2012);

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