El Salvador is one of the most densely populated countries in the Western Hemisphere. It exhibits deforestation rates comparable to those of countries like Haiti. As with much of Latin America, historical land use patterns and ownership have favored large-scale, singular landholdings, for which regulations or management regimes were nearly nonexistent. Today, authorities are attempting to reform and implement a functioning environmental permitting system, even as new investments in sensitive coastal areas will substantially increase over the next five years. The discussion will outline the challenges facing countries like El Salvador with evolving institutions and rule of law concerns. It will consider the role civil society can play in forging real development compliance--no matter the country—and will highlight the work of a visionary Salvadoran community-based organization, La Coordinadora del Bajo Lempa, whose vision and practice of rural development stand in dramatic contrast to conventional ”know-how.”
Adele Negro obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree in French language and literature from the University of Michigan and a Masters degree in Conference Interpretation from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. She is currently an adjunct professor in the Monterey Institute’s Graduate School of International Policy and Management and serves as faculty director of its yearly Sustainable Development Practicum in El Salvador (“Team El Salvador”). She has a wide range of experience in the South America context.
Nathan Weller is the Program and Policy Director, EcoViva. Nathan has been involved with rural development initiatives in Latin America for more than five years, specializing in local capacity building to solve environmental problems. He completed his Master’s degree in International Environmental Policy at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, during which time he worked with coastal communities in the Bay of Jiquilisco area of El Salvador to integrate climate change adaptation measures into community-led conservation. Currently as EcoViva’s Program and Policy Director, he works closely with local leadership in the Bay of Jiquilisco and Salvadoran government agencies to formulate and enable management plans and protections in this internationally-recognized protected area.