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The Role of Public Participation in Natural Resources Decisions

Juan Pedro Portaro, Mining Law & Investment in Latin America (2003)

Public participation in natural resources decisions was almost unthinkable until the Environmental Protection and Natural Resources Code (the “Code”)1 was enacted in 1990. The Code became the turning point of the Peruvian environmental regulations, as it allowed to put away a disperse, and sometimes confusing and contradictory legal framework made of rules of different nature and hierarchy, and to put in place a new legal framework, which will be described below.

Until the Code was enacted, under the tag of “environmental legislation” activities as different as mining, animal slaughter for human consumption or vegetables trading were regulated.

Probably with good intentions but ignoring the possibilities of enforcing a legal regulation, annoying noises were prohibited in factories, workshops, industries and stores located within the city limits;2 fishmeal factories that failed to control the stench were to be closed down;3 industries were prohibited from expelling gases in such volume that could be smelted;4 and, food wrapping in used paper was prohibited.5

Paradoxically, too many regulations, enacted by too many authorities, left the environment unprotected. Such chaos caused non compliance of the regulations that were supposed to protect the environment, which suffered a great impact.