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Sustainable Development Website Reviews

Useful Resources

    Context Institute is a content-rich website, focusing on "sustainable culture." Great resource for planetary thinking and access to more than 1,000 articles. Email:

    Community-based Environmental Protection is a new resource from the United States's Environmental Protection Agency. While this is not LatAm specific, there are a number of useful resources. Due to site design, it's difficult to give URLs specific documents. But under news, for example, you'll find profiles of upcoming conferences on environmental decisionmaking and communities and wetlands. Email:

    Communications Initiative is a partnership between The Rockefeller Foundation, UNICEF, USAID, WHO, BBC World Service, CIDA, Johns Hopkins University's Center for Communication Programming, UNFPA, Soul City and Panos. This is a recommended resource, though it should be noted that the "Initiative" tends to focus on institutional endeavors rather than grassroots programs. One complaint -- there is little on this website to show how the initiative began or for how long it will run. Among the best features on this site are Drum Beat and the News features ( Information is a little outdated, but useful for anyone interested in communications and development issues. For more information, contact Warren Feek - email:

    Eco-Village Information Service: Check out the communities around the world which have a holistic connection to the environment. The site includes the Global Eco-village Network (GEN), as well as a list of other resources and a calendar of events. Email:

    Exploring Ecotourism on the website ( reviews the concepts behind environmental tourism and points to resources and analysis throughout the world. (This is a modest plug for another page on this site.) Email:

    SD Gateway based in Canada, where I guess "SD" is known by everyone as shorthand for "Sustainable Development." That bit of jargon aside, this is a highly-recommended trilingual site with a primer on sustainable development and directories. A "network of some of the world's leading sustainable development institutes," these organisations have formed the Sustainable Development Communications Network in order to improve their online products and services. Email Contact:

    Green and Growing: From the Ground Up began as a teachers' lesson guide on food, agriculture, and sustainable development. This on-line version is divided into five lessons; The History of Agriculture and a Description of Sustainable Development; Soil; Agriculture and Chemicals; The Real Cost of Food; and Everything's Connected. This highly recommended website is prepared by Bryan Johnson and Keith Turner. Email Contact:

    Sustainability Action Group (UK): Excellent collection of articles, lectures and case studies from the Royal Society of Arts at Bristol. Email Contact:

    Sustainable Sources is  Sustainable Sources includes the Sustainable Building Sourcebook - -- -- one of the best practical archives of information on green building. Email:

    Sustainable Development Dimensions is an excellent new site hosted by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Information is divided into four areas: People, Institutions, Knowledge and Environment. The site is updated monthly. Includes information in Spanish. Email:

    Talking about Development: Highly recommended collection of real stories. This site - created by Vera Britto - is better than ever. Highly innovative and exceptionally interesting! Email:

Institutional Websites

    AmericasNet: A disappointment. Florida International University's Summit of the Americas Center has a site that's that frequently has high-tech video or audio conferences, but few documents or archives. It also tends toward an institutional focus - regardless of whether progress is actually being made. Email:

    The Business Council for Sustainable Development - Latin America offers general pages on the history and mission of the BSCD. New online pages include information on the first interamerican conference on joint implementation and sustainabledevelopment, held in San Salvador and the BCSD-LA document "Sustainable Development in Latin America. Private Enterprise & Common Sense." Email:

    Cyber Cafe Earth Council - This organization was created at the 1992 Earth Summit, and though it's had a website for some time, only recently has Earth Council developed into a content-rich archive. For example, in 1998 it launched a directory of the National Councils for Sustainable Development and similar entities (NCSD) at in case you'd like to know who are the official promoters of sustainable development in your country. On the minus side is the fact that the side is infrequently updated. In the Summer 1999, the last new items were added nine months previously. See What's New. Email:

    Environment Australia does not focus on Latin America but it does provide a good example of what a useful government site can offer. Documents available include summaries of Australia's National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development (NSESD), the InterGovernmental Agreement on the Environment (IGAE) and National Reports to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). Information on environmental economics and links to other sites with sustainable development information are also included.

    International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT): This center is based in Cali, Colombia. Projects include Crop Improvement, Agrobiodiversity and Land Management. Kudos to CIAT for producing regular updates for the Ecoregional Network for Latin America/Red Ecorregional para America Latina. To receive the updates, contact Isabel Gutierrez. Email:

    International Institute for Environment and Development has vastly improved. In the spring of 1996 there wasn't much information at this site, despite the organization's impressive history. Now a great deal is online. Check out the site map. Contact the IIED at 3 Endsleigh Street, London WC1H 0DD; Phone: +44-(0)171 388 2117; Fax +44-(0)171 388 2826;

    The Inter-American Development Bank's Social Programs and Sustainable Development Department (SDS) has made major improvements to its website. Among the useful resources are a site map a site map (, an enhanced search engine (, and a publications database ( Email Contact - Luis Fierro:

    The International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) is the international environmental agency for local governments. More than 200 municipalities from 43 countries participated in the founding of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) at the World Congress of Local Governments for a Sustainable Future held in September, 1990 at the United Nations in New York. Email:

    International Development Research Centre (Ottawa, Canada) is pledged to building a sustainable and equitable world. To meet this challenge, the Centre has focused its efforts on five multi-disciplinary themes: Biodiversity, Poverty and environmental damage, Food systems under stress, Information and communication and Technology and the environment. Email:

    The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is a non-profit organization established and supported by the Governments of Canada and Manitoba. IISD's mandate is to promote sustainable development in decision making within government, business and the daily lives of individuals in Canada and the world. Looking for indicators of Sustainable Development. Look at the compendium online This is a beautiful site! Email:

    Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) publishes or distributes a series of bulletins in both English and Spanish, including BRIDGES Weekly Trade News Digest, Connection to the Americas, Intellectual Property & Biodiversity News, NAFTA & Inter-American Trade Monitor, El Monitor de NAFTA y Comercio Interamericano, IATP Propiedad Intelectual y Biodiversidad Noticias. The Minnesota-based center has a long history of promoting responsible trade and its publications are a model of advocacy journalism.

    Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD) is a disappointment and it's unclear if its presence in the real world is much better. The online description reads: "In each LEAD member country or regions, approximately 15 promising mid-career are recruited from a broad range of disciplines and professional sectors to become Associates in the two-year program." Empty virtual conference halls and out-of-date contact lists hampers this resource. What does LEAD actually do in Latin America? Email:

    Organization of the American States: "The OAS' Department of Regional Development and Environment conducts technical cooperation and training programs to assist the member States in their efforts to preserve their natural resources. It works with the countries on planning sustainable development, managing the environment and preparing investment programs and projects." The site has some country-specific reports, though none online and the website offers few contacts. Pages include a Proposal to Create a Sustainable Development Unit and the Bolivia Summit. Email:Info@OAS.ORG

    PLEDS: "The Resource Directory was developed by the Fundacion Acceso at the request of the Business Leadership for Sustainable Development Program (PLEDS) an initiative of INCAE (the Central American Business Institute). This Network of 50 members from 18 countries of Latin America seeks to motivate the region's young business leaders to undertake specific projects in support of the sustainable development of their companies, sectors, and countries by providing them with access to practical business information, personal references, management training, and opportunities for dialogue both within the network as well as with professionals in other sectors. Part of the Acceso project at Email:

    PRODERS: Mexico's regional program for sustainable development run by the Environmental Secretariat (SEMARNAP) is an exemplary web site. Mexico demonstrates great leadership in distributing information on this topic.

    RAFI: This is a wonderful, content-rich site! RAFI is an international non-governmental organization headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario (Canada) and with affiliate offices in Pittsboro, North Carolina (USA). "RAFI is concerned about the loss of genetic diversity - especially in agriculture - and about the impact of intellectual property rights on agriculture and world food security." Email:

    Red de Desarrollo Sostenible - Mexico: This is a network of "groups committed to sustainable development and member of the UNDP-SDNP (United Nations Development Programme-Sustainable Development Network Programme." The site boasts a good collection of online publications. It's unclear, though, who's in charge, how the network is financed or what the direction of this group will be. Be sure to check out the daily Informacion Ambiental synthesis of Mexican environmental and economic news - - an UTNE Reader for Mexican environmental news stories in Spanish. I'll cross my fingers this isn't a short-lived experiment. Email:

    Red de Desarrollo Sostenible: Guatemala No doubt part of the United Nation's labrynth, this website has some good info online and the requisite links to other official organizations. There should be more information about what is happening in Guatemala, but this archive is rather dry. Stay tuned... Email:

    United Nations Environment Programme remains a disappointment. They say: "Geneva is a leading center for international treaties and major programmes dealing with the environment and sustainable development. Most of these activities are sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) or by the UN Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development (DPCSD)." I would ask that there be more specific information here - perhaps there will be developments later this year.

    United Nations Environment Program, Work Group on Sustainable Product Development: Includes information about the working group, its database, links to other environmental web pages, the newsfax archive and information on joining the program. There is also a Economic and Social Development section -- -- online. and

    The U.S. Department of Energy's Center of Excellence for Sustainable Development "will offer information and technical advice to help communities become more energy efficient and environmentally sound." Contact Jeff Birkby via email:

    World Bank - Environmentally Sustainable Development: Content-bereft - this site has a list of tempting publications, none of which are available via the website and a calendar of events that is available only to World Bank staff: "The ESD Calendar of Events and Outputs is available only to World Bank staff that are accessing the Internet through the Bank's connection. People not in the Bank can not access this page." This is an embarrassment! For such an important division, it's a shame there is no documentation available to the public here. No email and don't even try to connect to the calendar section.

    World Business Council for Sustainable Development: What a good good idea - entrepreneurs working to protect the environment, talking about eco-efficiency and corporate social responsibility. But it's unclear what the group really does. Publications are available, in PDF format unfortunately. The WBCSD produces the quarterly Trade and Environment Bulletin (, which offers a good review of current news in this field. Email:

Dated Resources

    Academy 2000: Distance Learning in the Watershed Approach is an innovative project from the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States. The content is not directly related to Latin America, but give this site kudos for providing an assortment of interesting documents online. Choice quote from the site: "Our economic choices should not be based on the principle of maximizing utility, but rather on minimizing regret." Email:

    The American Bar Association held a meeting on "Sustainable Development in the Americas: The Emerging Role of the Private Sector" with several sessions focusing on the upcoming Bolivia Summit as well as an ABA follow-up conference held in Buenos Aires in 1997. They do not seem eager to put conclusions or presentations online.

    Designing the Future - Proceedings from a 1996 Permaculture Conference is an excellent resource about sustainable agriculture. I wish more conferences put the full-text of terrific presentations online. While the conference was global in scope, there are several Latin America-specific articles, including one that details permaculture in Nicaragua

    Official Summit of the Americas Website: A hemispheric disappointment, the December 1996 Summit attracted just a dozen leaders from the Americas, and little substantial proress was made. The lack of public awareness of the summit was matched by institutional arrogance and lack of resolve. This website is actually no longer on the web. It had been produced by the Secretariat of the Summit of the Americas in collaboration with the Sustainable Development Network of Bolivia and Virtual Production Services, with funding from the Government of the Netherlands. This was not money well spent.

    Sustainable Development Reporting Project is an archive of articles written by John Burnett, an Austin, Texas-based reporter, who also prepared audio versions of this series for National Public Radio. This is an excellent snapshot of sustainable development in Mexico and Central America from the 1990s.

    Sustainable Development: Implications for World Peace was a 1996 conference held in Austin, Texas. Some of the papers are online as well as conference photos. Unfortunately, some of the links aren't working and the host does not respond to emails... Many of the papers, such as Sustaining Peace in Central America: The Challenges of the Central American Alliance for Sustainable Development tend to relay too heavily on what the institutions say they are doing instead of reviewing actual progress. Another paper, Philip Howard's Unsustainable Development and Conflict in Chiapas is listed but never has been accessible online.



Latin American Organizations

Asociación Méxicana de Turismo de Aventura y Ecoturismo (Mexican Association of Adventure Travel and Ecotourism - Amtave)
- AMTAVE is a group of about 80+ travel providers who work in the fields of ecotourism and adventure tourism. The association produces an annual catalogue and boasts a useful website. Currently, the organization is run by 8 co-presidents who are in charge of various regions in Mexico.

Departamento de Recursos Naturales/ICT (Costa Rican Tourism Institute) cr
San Jose, Costa Rica; Phone: (506) 223-1733, ext. 328; Email:
- A Costa Rican government office which is developing certification standards for green hotels. Contacts: Rodolfo Lizano and Alberto Sanchez

P.O. Box 109-Z, Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo, Rep. Dominicana; Tel.: 1-809-537 89 77; Email:
- Enterprising organization focusing on ecotourism as well as indigenous dance. Works mostly in the Caribbean.

Organization of American States - Tourism Unit
- Multinational group charged with promoting both tourism and development in the region, the OAS shows much promise, but again, it is difficult to get up-to-date information online their website.

Wildlife Venezuela (The Venezuela´s Eco Portal)
- Online publishing Eco Portal with 105 sections,house  and dialogue center focusing on ecotourism in Venezuela. Directed by Ing Xabier I. Amezaga


Other International Organizations

Related Ecotourism Websites

  Adventures Great and Small
  Adventure Travel Society
  Ecotourism Resource Centre - Australia
  Earth Travelers
  GORP - Great Outdoor Recreation Pages
  Internet Resources for Outdoors Recreational Research
  Latin America Alliance - Ecotourism Index
  Network for Ecotourism Professionals
  Tourism Conservation and Sustainable Development - UK
  International Ecotourism Club