The Environment and Structural Adjustment: Lessons for Policy Interventions in the 1990S

  • Michael Redclift
Part of the Institute of Latin American Studies Series book series


Considerable attention is currently being given to the effects of structural adjustment policies on rural development and poverty. In particular, consideration is being given to the alleged effects of such policies on the environment. This chapter argues, from Latin American material, that the situation of the poor has certainly worsened under structural adjustment policies, but that reduced sustainability needs to be seen against a longer-term perspective. In countries such as Mexico the current environmental crisis reflects longstanding development priorities, including economic liberalisation.


International Monetary Fund Agricultural Sector Structural Adjustment North American Free Trade Agreement Global Environment Facility 
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  1. 1.
    1. Agenda 21 is the name given to the document which was negotiated, rather painstakingly, between governments at Rio. Although its provisions, contained in 40 chapters, are not legally binding, they do carry considerable influence. In most areas Agenda 21 constitutes the principal guidance to governments, and it provides themes and practices against which a government’s performance can be compared with that of others. It is strongly orientated towards a ‘bottom-up’, participatory approach to environmental problems and demonstrates more acceptance of market principles that previous UN agreements. Agenda 21 is mainly concerned with the process through which sustainable development might be achieved, rather than performance targets themselves.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    2. The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) or ‘Earth Summit’ was held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. It led to the Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity and Agenda 21, as well as the (much weaker), Forest Principles document. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) was established prior to UNCED, but its role was clarified, and strengthened, by the meeting and new terms of reference agreed. Problems remain, however, with GEF’s budget and its relations with the World Bank.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Institute of Latin American Studies 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Redclift

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