Following a turnaround in Latin America’s economic fortunes, there’s a new momentum for sustainable development as governments align themselves with NGO efforts
It wasn’t always destined to happen this way. As recently as the late 1990s, most Latin American countries remained politically isolated, their economies hindered by a provincialism that halted regional integration and stunted global trade.
Little more than a decade later, much has changed.
Thanks, in part, to a new crop of leaders and a commodities “super cycle” that continues to generate large tax revenues, Latin America is booming like never before. Overall, the middle class has increased by 50%, while the percentage of Latin Americans living in poverty has fallen by almost a third.
Conditions would appear to be right for a fuller embrace of sustainable development models. In other words, economic growth based on the exploitation of natural resources can continue, but in a way that reduces environmental risks and promotes social inclusiveness.
Latin America has some of the world’s top solar, wind and geothermal resources, and yet the region still only garners 5% of global investment in clean energy. Opportunities should abound.
As for agriculture, according to the Inter-American Development Bank, since 1990 productivity in farming has risen faster than in eastern Asia or the US. Much of that gain, however, has translated into vast new fields of soy run by...