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This chapter studies the underlying tensions between ‘extractivism’, decentralisation processes, the recognition of ethnic rights, and the protection of the environment in four countries in Latin America. Two of them, Bolivia and Ecuador, adhere to so-called twenty-first century socialism, while the other two, Colombia and Peru, apply policies driven by neo-liberalism. This ‘major ideological fissure’, however, does not imply significant differences in terms of dependence on the extractives industry and its social, institutional and political consequences; nor does it explain differences in terms of the relationships between extractivism, decentralisation, and the governments’ policies concerning the environment and ethnic rights.

In: Alternative Pathways to Sustainable Development: Lessons from Latin America