International Development, Community and Environment (IDCE)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Development and Social Change (IDSC)


International Development, Community and Environment

Chief Instructor

Jude Fernando

Second Reader

Denise Humphreys Bebbington


Infrastructure, Road building, IIRSA, Madre de Dios, Peru


This paper considers the case of the Southern Interoceanic Highway, a major transportation corridor linking the Atlantic and pacific coasts through Southern Peru under the auspices of the Initiative for Regional Infrastructure in South America (IIRSA). The highway has raised significant social and environmental issues, including concern around the lack of mitigation planning on the part of the Peruvian government as well as the exclusion of civil society from participating in a review of the project. Based on GIS mapping of this highway and secondary research this paper finds that unprecedented migration into the region has contributed to an increase in illegal extractive activity such as gold mining and logging. Consequently, environmental degradation has resulted as rivers become polluted from mercury due to gold mining, and deforestation depletes soil and stresses fragile ecosystems. Furthermore, an analysis of spatial data shows that areas designated as protected, including Bahuaja-Sonene National Park and Tambopata National Reserve, have done little to slow the incursion of these environmental issues. Finally, this paper closes with a discussion of how civil society seeks to address social exclusion through NGO and civil society initiatives, concluding that processes of inclusion and transparency can mitigate social and environmental issues in future regional infrastructure projects, and a more just distribution of costs and benefits of development in Peru can be established.



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