Book Chapter or Section
This paper focuses on the potential of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and specific International Organizations (IOs) to promote democratic and effective environmental governance. FTAs are often cited in the political science literature for their negative impacts; yet, they are central to the present stage of economic globalization. Given that U.S. FTAs have environmental requirements as do accession agreements to developed country IOs (e.g. OECD), they remain under-explored institutions providing space for activists to expand environmental citizenship. The specific research question explored here is how might activists use these institutions to promote procedural environmental rights to information, participation, and justice, collectively known as “environmental democracy?” Data come from two Latin American cases—Mexico and Chile. These countries share cultural and economic similarities but at the same time pose a puzzle. Environmental democracy is related to overall quality of democracy, and Mexico rates low on “quality of democracy” scores. Yet within the region, Mexico has been an early adopter of environmental democracy laws. In contrast, Chile, with high overall “quality of democracy” scores, has been a relatively late adopter of modern environmental governance norms. At least some of the explanation relies on the positive incentive for nations’ to access FTAs and high prestige IOs.