"The solution is to create territorial planning based on an environmental and rights-based perspective, in such a way that everyone knows what lands are open for exploitation and which are not," Florez said. "Furthermore, any company that has an interest in going onto traditionally-owned lands should only be able to do so following previous consultation with the people who own those lands. This is a right that has been recognized under international law, and often under the laws of the same set of countries."
The choice confronting governments in Latin America today is whether to embrace a more sustainable development path built on inclusiveness and respect for the rights of all their citizens, or instead hand out their people's lands and forests to industrial investors.
"The investment 'boom' in Latin America can be an opportunity to overcome failed models of the past, rather than a threat to the livelihoods of those who have depended on the land for generations," White said. "We just need to figure out how to shape and guide this investment to promote new kinds of business and development models that respect human rights and local land rights, and also produce sound social and economic development."
He added that the plans that underlie government development strategies often give the illusion that countries have evaluated the costs and benefits of their choices. However, development sectors competing with one another for the next deal neither measure nor address the real impact of the projects on local communities.
"Without the recognition of local rights, transparency of deals and decisions, and mechanisms to ensure accountability of governments and
|Contact: Coimbra Sirica