Since the debt crisis of the early 1980s, most countries within Latin America have undergone major economic and political restructuring. Structural adjustment policies and opening up of markets have enabled the forces of globalisation to penetrate even the remotest parts of the continent. Encouraging their comparative advantage in natural resources, these changes have enhanced the region's export dependence on this resource base, with consequent implications for the environment (Gwynne and Silva, 1999; Reed, 1996). New econo-political conditions and social resistance to these forces however, have suggested a simultaneous process of localisation. Decentralisation, the emergence of specialised regional economies and the influence of social movements and sustainable development debates have contributed to this process (Hettne et al, 1998; Alvarez et al, 1998; Segura & Bartholomew, 1992)