A remarkable series of legal reforms and private innovations has given municipalities, indigenous peoples, and other local groups vital opportunities to influence development projects and secure economic benefits. This Article demonstrates the existence of this global trend and offers a model for explaining how and why it has manifested, as well as why—despite impressive gains—many communities still lack what they would consider sufficient influence or benefits. First, the Article argues that all of the formal rights and powers that local interests have secured in recent years result from pressure by communities and their supporters and are designed to address specific deficiencies in higher-level decision making. Second, while higher authorities have made a number of concessions, they have consistently tailored any new community rights and powers to avoid giving local interests outright control over development, for reasons both self-interested and grounded in legitimate public policy concerns. Third, communities are increasingly turning to private mechanisms to supplement their formal rights and powers. These mechanisms offer a number of advantages, but their viability ultimately depends on communities possessing—and effectively leveraging—robust public sources of influence.
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