Opportunities and Choices During Environmental Licensing: Community Participation in Latin America’s Extractive Sectors

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In many Latin American countries, the state is to inform communities about proposed large-scale development that affects them, often in a public hearing on the environmental impact study (estudio de impacto ambiental, EIA). This article explores the role of the EIA public hearing in environmental governance, specifically in terms of local community participation in extractives. Analysis of nine mining and hydrocarbon conflicts in Colombia and Peru reveals that sometimes the public hearing is a space for project opponents alone to participate intensively, with a focus on altering development outcomes; in other cases, activists and project supporters compete at hearings; and, finally, some communities eschew the hearing entirely. The study points to two factors to explain this variation: first, whether the public hearing is a mandatory stage in environmental licensing, and second, the cohesion of impacted communities. Running counter to existing criticisms of the structures that govern public hearings in Colombian environmental licensing, the article finds that the hurdle for Colombian communities of requesting the hearing has contributed to effective organizing by movements opposed to large-scale development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalStudies in Comparative International Development
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Colombia
  • Environmental impact assessment
  • Environmental licensing
  • Extractive industry
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Mining
  • Participatory institution
  • Peru
  • Protest
  • Resource conflict

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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