Environmental Leadership in Developing Countries

From American and Comparative Environmental Policy

Environmental Leadership in Developing Countries

Transnational Relations and Biodiversity Policy in Costa Rica and Bolivia

By Paul F. Steinberg





In the absence of world government, effective national policy is essential to the success of international environmental initiatives. Yet research on global environmental cooperation has proceeded without models of policy change in developing countries, where most of the world's people, land, and species are found. In this book Paul Steinberg provides a theoretical framework to explain the domestic responses of developing countries to global environmental concerns. Drawing on extensive field research, he traces the evolution of public policies to protect biological diversity in Costa Rica and Bolivia over the past four decades, to understand how these countries emerged as leaders in tropical conservation and how international institutions might support similar outcomes in other countries.

Environmental Leadership in Developing Countries explodes the myth that developing countries are too preoccupied with short-term economic growth and material survival to devote attention to global environmental concerns. Instead it offers a nuanced account of complex, decades-long efforts to create effective institutions, and analyzes the relative roles of foreign and domestic actors in this process.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262194655 272 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 32 illus.


$35.00 X ISBN: 9780262692663 272 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 32 illus.


  • This is an unusually interesting approach to a subject that receives too little attention and a notable account of a largely undisclosed history. It will be a very significant contribution to the field.

    Michael Redclift

    Department of Geography, King's College London

  • This is a hopeful and inspiring contribution to the understanding of global conservation. With careful and detailed analysis, Steinberg demonstrates that concern for the natural environment can take root in poor countries as easily as in the rich, and for the same economic and psychological reasons.

    Edward O. Wilson

    Harvard University

  • Steinberg provides a detailed history of the development of conservation policies in Costa Rica and Bolivia stressing the entrepreneurial roles of well-connected domestic scientific elites who are able to mediate between international forces from the scientific community and financial institutions and the top levels of their own governments. This book exemplifies careful methodological attention to the political mechanisms of policy change and provides important lessons towards the foundation of effective sustainable development practices in developing countries. Both policy analysts and conservation practitioners should read it.

    Peter M. Haas

    Department of Political Science, University of Massachusetts Amherst

  • Paul Steinberg's wonderfully detailed assessment of environmental leadership in Bolivia and Costa Rica is not simply an inspiring story of how enlightened conservationists can succeed against frequently daunting odds, but also a highly insightful analysis of how this can be done. By demonstrating the close links between domestic and international environmental leaders, the book demolishes the misleading myth that conservation is the 'foreigner's agenda.'

    William Ascher

    Dean of Faculty and Donald C. McKenna Professor of Government and Economics, Claremont McKenna College


  • Winner of the 2002 Harold and Margaret Sprout Award presented by The International Studies Association (ISA) Environmental Studies Section for the best book published on the topic of international environmental affairs.