Hecht on Infrastructure Projects’ Threat to Tropical Forests, Rural People’s Rights

In an opinion piece published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, leading tropical scholars, including Professor Susanna Hecht of UCLA Luskin Urban Planning and the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, warn that large-scale infrastructure projects in Latin America are undermining efforts to prevent climate change and biodiversity loss and enhance community land and resource rights. The researchers suggest alternative approaches to infrastructure, guided by an understanding of development that prioritizes human and environmental flourishing, equitable participation in decision-making, climate change mitigation, and a deepened relationship between science and public debate. The opinion is a response to the Group of 20’s emphasis on investment in large-scale infrastructure as a means of promoting economic growth. Governments are also promoting investment in infrastructure as a response to economic recession in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the authors. They outline how science can guide infrastructure planning to emphasize sustainability and respect for human rights.


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