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  • Author: Melina Risso, Julia Sekula, Lycia Brasil, Peter Schmidt, Maria Eduarda Pessoa de Assis
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Igarapé Institute
  • Abstract: The Brazilian Amazon is rife with illegal gold mining operations, with 321 identified points of illegal, active and inactive mines arranged in the 9 states that comprise the Brazilian Amazon Basin. This devastation has a price — according to Brazil’s Federal Public Prosecutors Office, 1kg of gold represents roughly R$1.7m in environmental damages, culminating in an environmental cost roughly 10 times greater than the current price of gold. The Amazon is nearing its critical ‘tipping point’, beyond which both the Amazon biome and our global climate will suffer irreversible damages. As such, discussions on illegal mining in the Brazilian Amazon present two interrelated challenges: combating deforestation and protecting the distinct cultures of indigenous populations, who constitute the forests’ principal environmental defenders. Considering the urgency of the discussion, the Igarapé Institute launches the publication Illegal Gold That Undermines Forests and Lives in the Amazon: An Overview of Irregular Mining and its Impacts on Indigenous Populations. The article presents urgent recommendations, in the short and long term, to avoid an irreversible climatic collapse, in which the preservation of the Amazon rainforest plays a fundamental role.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Natural Resources, Culture, Mining, Indigenous, Ecology
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Latin America
  • Author: Peter Schmidt, Robert Muggah
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Arab Barometer
  • Abstract: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that climate change will generate alarming consequences for West Africa. A rise in global temperature between 3°C to 6°C by the end of the century (or earlier) is associated with greater irregularity in rainfall, and a delay in the beginning of the rainy season. Another risk involves higher frequency of extreme weather events such as heat waves, droughts, rainstorms, and flooding. According to some models, sea levels could rise by more than 75cm on average by the end of the century, forcing hundreds of millions of people to move, mostly within their own countries, and often to cities.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Migration, International Security
  • Political Geography: Latin America, West Africa
  • Author: David L. Goldwyn
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: In 2019, the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center and Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center began an effort in partnership with the United States Department of Energy to consider a fresh approach to energy in the Americas that is comprehensive in nature and targeted in its approach. Following a year-long period of engagements alongside six representative stakeholder countries participating, the resulting report: “A New US Energy Strategy for the Western Hemisphere,” was launched in March 2020 and will serve as the launch point for additional work by the Atlantic Council on energy and sustainability issues across the hemisphere.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Governance, Nuclear Power, Geopolitics, Renewable Energy, Fossil Fuels
  • Political Geography: South America, Latin America, North America
  • Author: Diogo Andreola Serraglio
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: Addressing human mobility in the context of land and forest degradation and desertification (LFDD) in global and national policy and legal frameworks remains essential for improved management of population movements related to slow onset processes.
  • Topic: Environment, Population, Mobility, Land, Forest
  • Political Geography: Africa, Latin America, Caribbean
  • Author: Mauricio Cardenas, Juan Jose Guzman Ayala
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP), Columbia University
  • Abstract: In 2020, Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) will experience the most severe economic recession in decades. This paper looks at the challenges confronted by LAC and proposes a series of actions to structure a recovery plan that minimizes potential moral hazard effects while aligning fiscal, social, and environmental sustainability priorities.[1] High pre-pandemic sovereign debt levels, worsening credit ratings, and low tax revenues limit the much-needed fiscal space to overcome the present health and economic crises. Most countries in the region are at risk of losing two decades of progress in the fight against poverty and inequality, while their upper-middle income status makes them ineligible for debt relief and aid packages from advanced economies. The focus on solving the current crisis may also delay much-needed progress on climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, as well as overall improvements in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). We propose a combination of fiscal policy responses combined with new sources of financing to unlock a sharp recovery with minimal harm to fiscal sustainability in the long run. Through expanded public-private partnerships and blended finance structures, governments should be able to leverage private financing in large job-creation undertakings. Additionally, the issuance of SDG-linked sovereign debt and Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) with SDG conditionality could also provide much-needed liquidity at low cost.
  • Topic: Environment, International Cooperation, Global Recession, Sustainable Development Goals, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Caribbean, North America
  • Author: Adriana Abdenur, Brodie Ferguson, Ilona Szabo de Carvalho, Melina Risso, Robert Muggah
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Igarapé Institute
  • Abstract: According to the world’s top scientific experts, deforestation and degradation are up 25 percent in the first six months compared to last year. More forests are being cleared in 2020 than at any point in the past 15 years. Although spectacular levels of illegal burning have occupied global headlines, a host of other less visible but equally significant environmental crimes are being committed throughout the Amazon basin every day. Such crimes not only impact biodiversity and the global climate, but are virtually always associated with social ills ranging from corruption to slavery and violence. A new paper from the Igarape Institute – Environmental Crime in the Amazon Basin: a Typology for Research, Policy and Action – introduces a typology to help better understand the scope and scale of the problem and its extensive social and environmental impacts. To date, one of the principal barriers to better policing of the Amazon is the confusion and ambiguity of what is, and is not, a crime. Different countries apply different interpretations which can frustrate investigations and the enforcement of existing laws. The new paper is designed to provide greater clarity to policy makers, law enforcement agencies, civil society actors, and companies committed to curbing environmental crime.
  • Topic: Crime, Environment, Public Policy, Ecology, Deforestation
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Latin America, Amazon Basin
  • Author: Alan Gelb, Anit Mukherjee
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Reforming inefficient and inequitable energy subsidies continues to be an important priority for policymakers as does instituting “green taxes” to reduce carbon emissions. Simply increasing energy prices will have adverse impact on poorer consumers, who may spend substantial budget shares on energy and energy-intensive products even though the rich typically appropriate more of the price subsidy. Equitable pricing reforms therefore need to be accompanied by programs to transfer compensation: depending on the situation, this can be targeted or universal. Successful reforms require measures to raise awareness-of the subsidies and the problems they cause, effective dissemination of the reform to the population, and rapid feedback loops to facilitate mid-course corrections. Digital technology, including for unique identification and payments, as well as general communications, can help build government capacity to undertake such reforms and respond to changes in fuel markets. The paper outlines the use of digital technology, drawing on four country cases. The technology is only a mechanism; it does not, in itself, create the political drive and constituency to push reform forward. However, it can be employed in a number of ways to increase the prospects for successful and sustainable reform.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Science and Technology, Reform, Digitalization
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, India, Latin America
  • Author: Pepe Zhang
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Four new BRI trends to watch: (i) enforcement of transparency, debt, and environmental safeguards; (ii) growing participation of the private sector; (iii) the role of the advanced economies in BRI; and (iv) new BRI sectors beyond infrastructure Governments and companies in Latin America and the Caribbean should engage and help shape an evolving BRI, mindful of both the opportunities and risks involved The United States can play a key role in setting standards for economic development projects in the region and beyond
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Environment, Financial Markets, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South America, Latin America
  • Author: Susanna B. Hecht
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Environmental Studies, The Graduate Institute (IHEID)
  • Abstract: The dramatic Amazon fires images of Au-gust 2019 triggered a geopolitical outcry. Brazilian President Bolsonaro, however, unflinchingly continues to support his destructive model of Amazonian development. This article recalls the extent of the disaster and delves into the reasons behind such disdain for environmental concerns.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Climate Change, Development, Environment
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Latin America
  • Author: Eva Bratman
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA)
  • Abstract: Record fires in Brazil’s Amazon this year marked a political protest led by ranchers who, already empowered under Bolsonaro’s government, are keen to push the government to fully embrace a dictatorship-era extractive doctrine.
  • Topic: Environment, Protests, Dictatorship
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Latin America
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Postgraduate Program on Sustainable Development and Social Inequalities in the Andean Region (trAndeS)
  • Abstract: States face the challenge of developing institutions to govern the activities of social actors when an area under their control becomes the target of increased extractive activities. National and local public regulations safeguarding the environment, the assignment of extractive rights to individuals or companies, and handling of ensuing conflicts are developed in an institutional gray zone. This paper analyzes how informal institutions developed in early period become hybrid institutional entanglements that depend largely on configurations of power. It does so by looking at two cases in Peru: Water extraction in Ica, mostly by large companies and gold mining in Madre de Dios, mostly by small scale miners. Taken together, these cases show the institutions resulting from state governance of extractive activities depends heavily on the agency and political leverage of the state but also of other social actors.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Environment, Natural Resources, Water, Institutions, Ecology
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Peru
  • Author: Maria Elena Rodriguez, Gabriel de Barros Torres
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: BRICS Policy Center
  • Abstract: With the purpose of contributing to expanding transnational investment flows, Brazil signed, in 2015, a series of Cooperation and Investment Facilitation Agreements (CIFAs) with African and Latin American countries. Among its provisions, the CIFAs feature distinctive characteristics in terms of direct (and indirect) expropriation, corporate social responsibility, dispute settlement mechanisms and national treatment clauses – ultimately, aiming to provide greater legal certainty for investors. However, civil society organizations have warned against the potential impact of this new model of investment agreements on the autonomy of states to establish regulations in the public interest. As such, this Quarterly Brief seeks to analyze similarities and differences between the new Brazilian CIFAs and traditional bilateral investment agreements – as well as to evaluate them in light of alternative frameworks, elaborated by civil society networks, aimed at balancing investment promotion with human and environmental rights protection.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Environment, Treaties and Agreements, Regulation, Social Justice, Land Rights, Public Health
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Latin America
  • Author: César Rodríguez
  • Publication Date: 08-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Dejusticia
  • Abstract: This text forms part of a long-term project undertaken by Dejusticia as part of its international work. The project revolves around the Global Action-Research Workshop for Young Human Rights Advocates that Dejusticia organizes each year to foster connections among and train a new generation of action researchers. The workshop helps participants develop action-research tools, understood as the combination of rigorous research and practical experience in social justice causes. For ten days, Dejusticia brings approximately fifteen participants and ten expert instructors to Colombia for a series of practical and interactive sessions on research, narrative writing, multimedia communication, and strategic reflection on the future of human rights. The aim is to strengthen participants’ capacity to produce hybrid-style texts that are at once rigorous and appealing to wide audiences. Participants are selected on the basis of an article proposal, which is then discussed during the workshop and subsequently developed with the help of an expert mentor (one of the instructors) over ten months until a publishable version is achieved, such as the chapters that make up this volume.
  • Topic: Development, Environment, Human Rights, Justice, Ecology
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Global South