The Legal 500 Green Guide: Latin America 2024

Latin America 2024


Market overview

Welcome to the second edition of the Latin America Green Guide.

Latin America, with its diverse social, economic, political, and environmental landscape, faces a unique ESG trajectory. Each country in the region has its own environmental challenges, often coupled with significant social and political issues. Generally, there is a growing recognition of the need for environmental protection and a transition towards a greener economy, and efforts to strengthen environmental regulations are ongoing. 

Whilst many countries across the region have robust environmental laws on paper, the implementation of those existing regulations has been faced with obstacles, including limited resources, corruption, and inadequate monitoring and compliance mechanisms, often hindering effective enforcement. Other challenges include illegal land use, logging, and wildlife trade, mining and extracting activities, and indigenous land rights. 

Costa Rica is known for its environmental leadership, having established a strong, long-standing legal framework for environmental and biodiversity protection as well wildlife conservation. The country promotes sustainable tourism, has protected a significant portion of its land as national parks and reserves, and has been lauded for its rapid deployment of a strategic plan to decarbonize its economy and reach net zero emissions by 2050. 

Brazil, Chile and Colombia have all embraced a transition to a greener economy as newly elected government leaders pledge to prioritise climate policy. In Brazil, a key player not least because the country is home to most of the Amazon rainforest, the election of President Lula da Silva, who has committed to increased sustainability efforts, will most likely mean a greater eagerness from global leaders to invest in the country’s conservation efforts. The new Colombian and Chilean governments have also set out ambitious climate and environmental justice agendas. Under Chile’s new president Gabriel Boric, the country ratified the UN’s Escazu Agreement on access to environmental information and justice and saw renowned climate scientist Maisa Rojas take the post of environment minister. 

Uruguay has become a noteworthy ESG frontrunner in the region with its successful $1.5bn sustainability-linked bond. A landmark in sustainable finance, the innovative two-way pricing structure included a step-down coupon to incentivize environmental improvement, and a step-up to penalise underperformance. Regional innovation in the sustainable finance space also includes blue bonds – particularly relevant to Latin America and the Caribbean with its large populations living in coastal areas. After the success in the Seychelles and Belize, Barbados became the third country to raise capital to protect its oceans. A noteworthy local green bond market has been developed in Colombia, which is also pioneering as the first country in America to publish its own Green Taxonomy. 

Law firms have an increasingly important part to play, helping businesses in the region navigate the new wave of emerging ESG policies, holding them accountable for their actions against the environment, and paving the way by demonstrating an internal commitment to sustainability. While most firms will have come across work with an ESG or sustainability component, dedicated ESG practices are still far from commonplace. With no consolidated understanding on what constitutes ESG within the region, law firms continue to accommodate demand flexibly, and the ability to work across disciplines will remain key. 

We hope you find this second edition of our Latin America Green Guide to some of the key firms engaging with sustainability within the context of this region useful, and we look forward to continually evolving our coverage as the market develops. 

Anna Baubock
Anna Bauböck | Editor
Maya Sainani | Researcher