20 de Julio de 2018
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Colección: La Educación
Número: (129-131) I,III
Año: 1998

Workshop Results

The workshops have led to a number of loosely related principles or methods for strengthening institutions charged with complex environmental mandates and their relationships with financing institutions such as the Bank. The following text highlights can therefore be considered as results or outputs of this workshop series.
  • Policy overlap and institutional roles. One of the most pervasive problems confronting Latin American environmental ministries is overlapping mandates with other agencies and unclear legislation, leading to confused policies and a mixed record of environmental control and enforcement. And specifically because environmental issues are multi-sectoral, even the chain-of-command for enforcing what appear to be clear policies is often times blurred. One of the principles of most of the workshops has therefore been to examine existing policies and institutions in a given country or sub-region with the aim of trying to clarify institutional responsibilities to minimize opportunities for conflict. The end product is a matrix to define institutional responsibilities and identify potential nodes for effective coordination. This process is considered a precursor to addressing issues related to institutional decentralization and involvement of local constituencies in decision processes.
  • Developing market-based policy instruments. Several workshops included a component on environmental policy instruments. A cursory review of national legislation applying to specific regions or problems in Latin America, indicates a long history of ineffectual “command and control” regulatory measures. We were hard-pressed to find more than a few examples where a given piece of legislation was having its intended impact (either incentive or regulatory) as conceived by the legislature/parliament or implemented by the responsible national agency. The situation was no better at the municipal level, where even with increased decentralization and autonomy, a lack of qualified personnel hampered implementation of existing policies. The workshops therefore focused on economic instruments that the government jurisdictions could introduce to catalyze acceptance of programmed changes, for example relative to industrial effluent quality discharge standards from industry, potable water standards, or pubic transport emission standards. A menu of options was presented from pollution and user charges, to tax incentives and disincentives, as well as provisions to establish “institutional collateral” which in turn could be used to help garner loans or grants. In order to get a handle on the severity of the air pollution problem for example, a valuation survey was conducted by one of the workshops measuring “willingness to pay” to achieve incremental improvements in air quality in their capital city. The important concept is that managers gained another tool to effectively measure the probability that a given policy would not only be understood, but supported by the general public as part of an overall development and investment framework.
  • Resource use controls. One workshop that was oriented around integrated coastal zone management addressed the issue of “open access” to resources, based on custom rather than statute, and leading to over exploitation of mangrove and near-shore forests. The primary recommendation was to better define and enforce property rights in order to reduce conflicts over authorized or unauthorized access to public resources. But a closer look at the problem indicated that the recommended new land tenure policy and cadastral system would be very costly to manage and not necessarily guarantee that established customs providing access to resources held in common for private use would continue. The workshop participants presented an interesting solution to the problem that included pooling financial resources and equipment of national agencies (e.g. forestry, ports and harbors, fisheries, and health). The local people were in-turn organized into geographical zones and placed in charge of these common natural resources. Any infractions by outsiders would be quickly reported to the authorities, who would immediately address the problem.5 Indicators and mechanisms were also established for sustainable use of the resource base by the stakeholders/user groups to ensure their viability for the long-term.