From ‘Green Laggard’ to Regional Leader: Explaining the Recent Development of Environmental Policy in Chile


Bulletin of Latin American Research
Autores COES:

Promoting environmentally responsible policy is a difficult task. In fact, ‘green change agents are structurally disadvantaged in relation to those who favour the status quo. [ … ][Therefore] green solutions are more easily questioned and undermined’ (Hysing and Olsson, 2017: 10). This observation is particularly relevant in the context of a neoliberal development model. Given neoliberalism’s focus on fiscal retrenchment, deregulation, privatisation and export promotion, scholars expected it would bring a deterioration in environmental protection and that changes in environmental policy would only be possible where pressures did not directly threaten neoliberalism and/or the actors supporting it (see Kaimowitz, 1996; Liverman and Vilas, 2006). Research on environmental politics in Chile confirmed such expectations (Altieri and Rojas, 1999; Silva, 1996; Carruthers,2001; Tecklin, Bauer and Prieto, 2011; Risley, 2014). Environmental policy was subject to the imperative of economic growth; policymakers were more interested in maintaining good relations with businesses than in regulating their environmentally damaging activities; weak civil society actors had few chances of influencing policymaking; and environmental policy only advanced under international pressure. However, existing research on environmental politics in other Latin American countries has shown that gradual changes in environmental policy are possible under the hegemony of neoliberalism (eg Lemos and Looye, 2003; Díez, 2006; Hochstetler andKeck, 2007). Using this literature, I provide a unified framework for analysing environmental policy in Figure 1. Four key actors attempt to affect environmental policy: international organisations, state bureaucracies and policymakers, civil society (including social movements) and business interests. However, their ability to achieve their goals depends on three specific contextual conditions: institutional legacies, windows of opportunity and policy entrepreneurs. In what follows, I explain these conditions and then show how they affectactors’ ability to affect environmental policy.

Como citar: Madariaga, A. (2019). From Green Laggard to Regional Leader: The Development of Environmental Policy in Chile, Bulletin of Latin American Research, 38(4): 453–470. DOI: 10.1111/blar.12841