A worker cuts a diamond, reflecting Botswana’s attempt to control stages of diamond production beyond mining, Gaborone, Botswana, March 18, 2008 (AP photo by Themba Hadebe).

The past year has seen dramatic declines in the prices of global commodities. Between June 2014 and the beginning of this year, crude oil prices fell by 50 percent to around $50 a barrel. Similarly, mineral prices have seen a drastic fall since the peak of the “commodity supercycle” in early 2011. Between then and April of this year, iron ore prices fell by 70 percent, coal prices by 54 percent and copper prices by 40 percent. Many countries dependent on revenues from these commodities have been hit hard. Venezuela is unable to import food and medicine to satisfy the […]

A Repsol plant before a ceremony to inaugurate the completion of a new phase at the Margarita-Huacaya gas refinery in the region of Chaco, southeastern Bolivia, Oct. 1, 2013 (AP photo by Juan Karita).

Latin America faces difficult choices over hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” as the region looks to expand its nascent shale gas and oil industry. To date, the United States and Canada have outpaced their southern neighbors in unconventional energy production. But Latin America, which holds approximately one-fourth of the world’s recoverable shale oil and gas reserves, appears poised to reap the benefits of the North American shale revolution in the coming decade. The urgency to start drilling might have eased in the short term, with lower energy prices making shale less competitive outside the United States. In the meantime, delays afforded […]

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto at a press conference, Mexico City, Mexico, April 27, 2015 (AP photo by Rebecca Blackwell).

As part of its historic overhaul of Mexico’s energy sector, President Enrique Pena Nieto’s government has touted the potential for unprecedented levels of oil, gas and renewable energy investment. Yet Mexico should heed the lessons from other countries in Latin America about the need to engage indigenous communities as it develops and expands its energy sector. Across the region, when that has not happened, ensuing social conflict has disrupted the economy and often irrevocably damaged the relationship among communities, the government and the private sector. In Mexico, a failure to learn from others’ mistakes could put Pena Nieto’s ambitious economic […]

Rachel Notley at an Alberta NDP rally, Edmonton, Canada, June 16, 2014 (photo by Flickr user daveberta licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license).

Canadian politics rarely draws international interest, unless a certain colorful former Toronto mayor is involved. But a snap election in the energy-rich province of Alberta this week shocked Canada and made headlines around the world. The Progressive Conservative (PC) party, which has held continuous control of the province since 1971, lost in a stunning upset to the left-of-center Alberta New Democratic Party (NDP). NDP leader Rachel Notley is set to be the premier—the equivalent of governor—of the heartland of Canadian conservatism and the home province of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose ruling Conservative Party faces tough federal elections this fall. […]

U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard ships survey the Arctic Ocean, Sept. 5, 2009 (U.S. Geological Survey photo).

When the United States assumed chairmanship of the Arctic Council last month, Secretary of State John Kerry declared that the U.S. government’s priority would be to manage the impact of global climate change on the region in cooperation with the other countries that have a major presence in the Arctic. Climate change is certainly an important issue, and one that is having a greater impact in the Arctic than in any other region. But as U.S. officials are aware, the tensions between the United States and Russia could impede their bilateral cooperation on this and other Arctic-related issues. Climate change […]