World Bank Latin American and Caribbean Studies

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This regional flagship series features major development reports from the Latin America and Caribbean region unit of the World Bank. They aim to enrich the debate on the major development challenges and opportunities the region faces as it strives to meet the evolving needs of its people. Titles in this series undergo extensive internal and external review.

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    Low-Carbon Development : Latin American Responses to Climate Change
    (World Bank, 2010) de la Torre, Augusto ; Fajnzylber, Pablo ; Nash, John
    Climate change is already a reality. This is evidenced by the acceleration of global temperature increases, the melting of ice and snow covers, and rising sea levels. Latin America and the Caribbean region (LCR) are not exempt from these trends, as illustrated by the changes in precipitation patterns that are already being reported in the region, as well as by observations of rising temperatures, the rapid melting of Andean tropical glaciers, and an increasing number of extreme weather events. The most important force behind climate change is the rising concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the earth's atmosphere driven mainly by manmade emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases. Because of inertia in the climate system, the planet is likely to continue warming over the twenty-first century, and unless emissions are significantly reduced, this process could accelerate, with potentially very serious consequences for nature and mankind. There is still, however, a high degree of uncertainty regarding the specific drivers, timing, and impact of global climate change, as well as about the costs and efficacy of actions aimed at either mitigating it or dealing with its physical and economic impacts. As a result, it is very hard, at this point, to unambiguously determine economically efficient emission pathways for which the benefits of actions to mitigate climate change will exceed the costs of those actions. Despite these problems and uncertainties, there is increasing evidence suggesting that urgent action is needed in order to alter current emission trends so as to avoid reaching GHG concentration levels that could trigger large and irreversible damages. Negotiations are under way and are scheduled to be concluded in 2012 with a new agreement on a way forward. At the same time, individual countries are also considering how to respond in their own domestic policy to the challenges of climate change. LCR governments and civil society should be well informed about the potential costs and benefits of climate change and their options for decisions that will need to be made over the next decades as well as the global context in which these decisions must be taken. At the same time, the global community needs to be better informed about the unique perspective of the LCR, problems the region will face, potential contributions the region can make to combat global warming, and how to unlock the region's full potential so as to enable it to maximize its contribution while continuing to grow and reduce poverty. This report seeks to help fill both these needs.
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    Low Carbon, High Growth : Latin American Responses to Climate Change - An Overview
    (World Bank, 2009-01-01) de la Torre, Augusto ; Fajnzylber, Pablo ; Nash, John
    Based on analysis of recent data on the evolution of global temperatures, snow and ice covers, and sea level rise, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has recently declared that "warming of the climate system is unequivocal." Global surface temperatures, in particular, have increased during the past 50 years at twice the speed observed during the first half of the 20th century. The IPCC has also concluded that with 95 percent certainty the main drivers of the observed changes in the global climate have been anthropogenic increases in greenhouse gases (GHG). While the greenhouse effect is a natural process without which the planet would probably be too cold to support life, most of the increase in the overall concentration of GHGs observed since the industrial revolution has been the result of human activities, namely the burning of fossil fuels, changes in land use (conversion of forests into agricultural land), and agriculture (the use of nitrogen fertilizers and live stock related methane emissions).
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    Informality : Exit and Exclusion
    (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2007) Perry, Guillermo E. ; Maloney, William F. ; Arias, Omar S. ; Fajnzylber, Pablo ; Mason, Andrew D. ; Saavedra-Chanduvi, Jaime
    Informality: exit and exclusion analyzes informality in Latin America, exploring root causes and reasons for and implications of its growth. The authors use two distinct but complementary lenses: informality driven by exclusion from state benefits or the circuits of the modern economy, and driven by voluntary 'exit' decisions resulting from private cost-benefit calculations that lead workers and firms to opt out of formal institutions. They find both lenses have considerable explanatory power to understand the causes and consequences of informality in the region. Informality: exit and exclusion concludes that reducing informality levels and overcoming the 'culture of informality' will require actions to increase aggregate productivity in the economy, reform poorly designed regulations and social policies, and increase the legitimacy of the state by improving the quality and fairness of state institutions and policies. Although the study focuses on Latin America, its analysis, approach, and conclusions are relevant for all developing countries.