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Colección: La Educación
Número: (129-131) I,III
Año: 1998


The Bank benefited in several measurable ways from sponsoring this workshop series. The necessity of a streamlined process for information gathering and an increased level of institutional coordination greatly facilitated the preparation of viable projects for funding consideration by both the Global Environment Facility as well as through traditional Bank loans. In addition, the importance of citizen participation from the outset of the EA process helped the Bank gain the confidence of local citizens groups as well as helping to bridge the gap between local groups and government agencies. The outputs from this workshop series have also formed an important baseline for public participation efforts for project development involving stakeholders from all sectors of society.

The workshops were cost-effective mechanisms for the Bank to promote better safeguards where Bank loan projects with potential environmental impact were present. They also help promote the evolution from regulatory to market based instruments from pollution control. EA procedures in LAC have been historically bureaucratic, very sensitive to political interference and ineffective in regulating industry in the public and private sector. Demand for improved institutional effectiveness has thus grown and the Bank workshops helped fill this gap. These workshops, however, are not a substitute for political commitment to reduce negative environmental externalities through adequately financed institutional structures with both legislation and effective monitoring and enforcement. Perhaps most opportune were the workshops promoting cooperation and information exchange. Exchange of experiences has historically concentrated in a north-south direction. The workshops helped fill the gap of experience exchange within the region. Our conclusions may then be summarized as such:
  • EA is improving in LAC. A wide range of mechanisms have been developed and applied in all of the countries investigated.
  • Public awareness is low and uncertainty is high. Weak participation among stakeholders, largely inherited from authoritarian regimes of past decades, poses a real constraint to good EA mechanisms.
  • Institutional constraints to good EA implementation remain. In most of the countries where workshops were held, fragile institutions and inadequate budgets hampered effective monitoring and enforcement.
  • Administrative requirements of good EA remain stringent. Good EA practice requires monitoring, legal design, public consultation, and enforcement.
  • “South-south” information flow is key. To date, most of the information flow regarding EA has been of a north-south variety. An important opportunity has been missed to share environmental management experiences among LAC countries. Increased information sharing in a “south-south” dialogue will benefit all parties.